Terrafugia Transition production prototype takes off
The production prototype of Terrafugia's Transition Street-Legal Airplane has successfully completed its first flight
Of all the “flying car”-type vehicles currently in development, Terrafugia’s Transition Street-Legal Airplane is quite likely the one that’s closest to actual commercial availability. Yesterday, the New York-based company announced that on March 23rd, one of two production prototypes of the vehicle successfully completed its maiden flight.
For those readers who remember already having seen shots of a flying Transition, you’re not mistaken. A proof-of-concept vehicle was completed in 2009, and has indeed already taken to the air. The model that flew for the first time last month, however, is closer to what customers may be able to buy.
The flight took place at Plattsburgh International Airport in Plattsburgh, New York, and lasted about eight minutes. The aircraft stayed in the vicinity of the airport, reaching an altitude of 1,400 feet (427 meters) while its controllability and safe operational characteristics were demonstrated. This is reportedly just the beginning of six phases of planned flight tests.
Terrafugia is expecting first deliveries of the Transition to take place within the next year. If you’re interested in getting on the list, however, you’d better start saving now ... the anticipated base price of the vehicle is US$279,000 – a fair hike up from the 2010 estimate of $190,000.
The production prototype can be seen in action – on the ground and in the air – in the video below.
About the Author
An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.
All articles by Ben Coxworth
re; Alex Lekander
The PAL-V course of development is now where the Terrafugia’s Transition Street-Legal Airplane was at in 2009.
"Terrafugia’s Transition Street-Legal Airplane is quite likely the one that’s closest to actual commercial availability."
I disagree. The PAL-V is more compact, takes off over a shorter distance and has superior road performance.
I agree with Alex. The little heli seemed more usable but each to their own.
Should I drive or fly? This should confuse the challenged impaired!
If 3-D printing can manufacture the structural elements of the Terrafugia, then it will be lighter and cheaper. Otherwise, it's a quarter million dollars for a semi-useful airplane.
So, for $280,000 usd, you get a marginal 2-seat sports plane that can't be flown on instruments and can barely exceed 100 mph?
Also included is a less than marginal 2-seat automobile that is neither a joy to drive or to park.
For that money, you could buy a new Porsche, a very nice 4-seat a/c with real speed and have $80,000 left over.
Just because it can be built doesn't mean it should be built.
The Pal-V test aircraft appeared to be a one seater, with the possibility of a second tandem seat, this at least has two side-by-side, makes it a more social vehicle? I'll have one of each thanks.
I completely agree with MAQ.
I would add that until we figure out Gravity and Anti-Gravity, the flying car will never exist. The PAL-V and this Terrafugia are nothing more than drivable airplanes.
This generation of flying cars seems to be the first one approaching the reality of flying as a commuting vihacle and I agree with previous comment. There were previous versions of flying cars and as I remember recently one man made a private one which hit in the news. Also vaguely do I remember in 1995 (I was 7 then!) that there was this news on having commercial manufacturing of the represented prototype by 2000 back then. It did not happen but rather now we see it's turning to reality.
Once again human being is one step forward in actulizing the dream, and this time it is about flying cars. I suppose sooner or later we will see flying taxies over our living places. Hope trafic rules for such transportaion system will be made before this genious production starts to take off. "Well-done"
re; Hassan Jahangiri
There are enough traffic rules in place for the type of aircraft these "flying cars" represent.
Why would the fact it is a rich man's toy affect production. Back in the late 1800's and early 1900's the automobile was just a rich man's toy also. It only became something everyone had to have because the prices dropped to where most businesses and private individuals could afford them.
Speeds of 100 knots are acceptable. This vehicle allows for extreme personal mobility. As to which is better the Terrafugia or Pal-V, that is mostly up to personal taste. I would probably chose the Pal-V just because I like the feel of a sports car at high speeds on a winding road. This vehicle does appear to have at least space for carrying some cargo/luggage. I would definitely prefer a 4 person version though.
My biggest question is how/where do you takeoff and land this. A flying car that must be taken to an air field to utilize its ability to switch from automobile to plane and back is not in my opinion a viable solution. If I visit my someone, I would not want to have to fly 30-50 miles out of my way and then drive through terrestrial traffic to get there. (Though maybe if the roads were right and the traffic light, the Pal-V might make this fun.)
While the ultimate vehicle would utilize "anti-gravity", general relativity precludes such a force existing. In early years there were questions about whether anti-matter would result in anti-gravity but those were put to rest in 1960 when CPT symmetry was finally understood. Proposed gravitons have never been found nor is there any theory on how they would come into existence, be detected, or be destroyed. Also all attempts to identify the Supergravity and Supersymmetry proposed graviphoton particles have resulted in negative results.
Flying cars will not become common until they can have finder benders without dropping debris on the people below. Parachutes are not good enough. Flying cars require a lighter than air emergency lifting system. It must be gun or rocket deployed and have a long enough tether that if the "car" is on fire the balloon is unaffected.
This isn't a flying car as much as 3rd rate fold-up plane with turn signals and airbags.
@ alex & robin:
Opinion of the design notwithstanding, this is closer to actually being something that can be purchased, as opposed to the PAL-V which is still in a development phase.
The author's comment was about commerce, not engineering.
I am not well-versed on marine/aviation drive systems, can someone tell me how the rear wheels are driven?
@ Mark Cleaner - quite the conclusionary leap you've made without experience actually operating the vehicle, particulary insight on it design, etc...
C. Walker Walker
So what exactly does this thing have over the likes of 50 year old Acrostar or Bede BD-5?
At least those can have jet engines, fly like the clapper, and cost tonnes less. Making them road-legal isn't that hard.
Fixed wing that needs a runway is by definition not a flying car, but an awkward-looking under-performing foldable-wing plane.
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