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Terrafugia PDF Print E-mail

 

This all sounds highly improbable, but believe me the Terrafugia Transition does exist.? Built in Woburn, Massachusetts, not far from Boston, it combines flight with a uniqueroad vehicle. Every pilot faces uncertain weather, rising costs, and ground transportation hassles on each end of the flight. The Terrafugia Transitioncombines the unique convenience of being able to fold its wings with the ability to drive on any surface road in a modern personal airplane platform.

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Stowing the wings for road use and deploying them for flight at the airport is activated from inside the cockpit. This unique functionalityaddresses head-on the issues faced by today?s private pilots.

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Terrafugia founder Carl Dietrich was interviewed on Fox News in mid-January, but his side-kick Richard Gersh says, ?It is taking theregulators a while to work out what we are doing, and exactly what we?ve got.?

Dietrich refuses to call his ?vehicle? a flying car, preferring to use the term ?roadable aircraft?.? Gersh, though, is not quite as pedantic: ?At the FAA, none of theregulations ever contemplated a flying car,? he says.

The Transition is front-wheel drive when on the road and has a conventional entry and exit door, while the folding wings are operated electro-mechanically.? If the weather is too severe to fly, thensimply drive to your destination.? On the road the vehicle - what do you call it? - ?will reach 105 km/h, while when airborne it cancruise at 100 knots, or 185 km/h.? It requires around 1700 feet of runway and has a range of 400 nautical miles.

The engine is a 100 hp Rotax 912S, similar to those found in many circuit-racing karts.? Modern avionics are built into the aircraft, while on the road, normal automotive safetyfeatures are incorporated.

Terrafugia was founded in 2006 by award-winning MIT-trained aeronautical engineers ? who also happen to be passionate private pilots. CarlDietrich is one and he and his wife Anna control the company. ?To date, Terrafugia remains privately funded by a dedicated group of accredited individual investors. The founders? missionis to provide innovative solutions to the challenges facing personal aviation.

ImageThe result: The Transition Roadable Aircraft, capable of carrying two and a set of golf clubs.

Taking advantage of new FAA regulations in the Light Sport Aircraft category, Terrafugia developed the Transition to provide pilots the convenience of a dual-purpose vehicle. Itsunique design allows the vehicle to fold its wings and drive on any surface road with a modern personal airplane platform. Once at the airport, the wingsextend and the aircraft is ready for take-off. Both folding and extending the wings is done from inside the cockpit at the press of a switch.?? In flight the Transition consumes five U.S.gallons per hour, while on the road it will return around 30 miles per gallon.

The Transition addresses head-on the issues private and sports pilots face: cost, weather sensitivity, high overall door-to-door travel time and a lack of mobility at destination.

In July of 2008 Terrafugia returned to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI with a completed Proof of Concept Transition vehicle. The first flight was completed at the end of 2008,represents a major milestone for Terrafugia and general aviation.

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Construction, testing and certification of the Production Prototype will follow completion of the full testing program. First customerdelivery of the Transition is expected to occur in 2010 and the company is currently taking deposits from would-be customers.? Final price, fully equipped, is expected to be in the region of $200,000.? Dietrich says that more than 50 Transitions

have been pre-ordered with $10,000 individual airframe reservation deposits. ?For further information, visit the company?swebsite at www.terrafugia.com

Photographs courtesy of Terrafugia

 

 
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© 2018 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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