Flying car should be available next year (w/ Video)

Jun 30, 2010 by Lin Edwards report

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Federal Aviation Administration in the US has given approval to the Transition, a two-seater flying car developed over the last four years by Massachusetts Company, Terrafugia.

The flying car, or “roadable aircraft” as the company calls it, was designed by a team of engineers trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It can drive like a car at normal highway speeds but can also unfold its wings and fly.

The runs on normal and has a cruising speed in the air of around 185 kph (115 mph). Its flying range is 740 kilometers (460 miles). When driven like a car with its wings folded the is around 7.85 liters per 100 km (30 mpg). The use of normal fuel instead of a reliance on will make the Transition the most environmentally friendly plane in the air. The vehicle will have features of regular road vehicles, such as crumple zones and airbags.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

On the road, with its wings folded, the Transition is driven by a conventional front-wheel drive, and can fit in a regular sized garage. When it is ready to take to the air via an airport, airstrip, or suitable flat land, the wings are folded out and the rear-facing propeller engaged to enable the vehicle to take off. It needs a runway of just over 500 meters (one third of a mile).

Federal approval of the vehicle was delayed because its weight of 600 kg (1,430 lb) was over the limit for a light sport aircraft (LSA), but the Transition has now been granted a special exemption to allow it to fly legally. The additional 50 kg in weight allows the vehicle to include safety equipment needed to meet federal motor vehicle standards in addition to aviation standards.

The vehicle has better crash survivability than a normal light sport aircraft because of the safety features such as the safety cage and crush zones required for driving on the roads, but it is also safer because if the weather turns bad the plane can land and drive home instead of flying through unsafe conditions.

The Transition is not as fast as traditional small aircraft and does not have as great a range or cargo capacity (Transition can carry just 195 kg (430 lb), including passengers and fuel), but the less stringent requirements for flying light sport aircraft may make it attractive to people who would not normally consider training for a full pilot’s license. Training for a light sport aircraft license in the US requires only 20 logged hours in the air.

The retail price of the Transition is expected to be $194,000 and Terrafugia expects the vehicle to be available by the end of 2011. The company has already received 70 orders.


Explore further: UConn makes 3-D copies of antique instrument parts

More information: www.terrafugia.com/aircraft.html

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User comments : 30

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AngryMoose
5 / 5 (2) Jun 30, 2010
Make it look a little nicer as a car and bring the price down to just above a normal car and they'll sell millions of them.

Runways at all major super markets, beaches and sport venues please.
Mayday
4.5 / 5 (4) Jun 30, 2010
IMHO, the wings are located too close to the ground. Landings will likely be very fickle and the slightest wobble or even a moderate crosswind gust could be quite dangerous. Touching a wingtip on landing will likely result in a nasty ground loop.

And as a car, hitting a moderate pothole, or even a good door ding could have unfortunate consequences. The most minor traffic accident will likely be a "total." I can't imagine what the insurance will be like.

The weight requirements of sport aircraft require them to be extremely light structurally. It is difficult to imagine that someone might actually take one of these out on a real hiway.
fhtmguy
5 / 5 (7) Jun 30, 2010
I would think that serious pilots wouldnt buy or fly this type of craft due to the preformance issues. (It can barely carry fuel and two people.)That leaves the inexperienced or new pilots to deal with all the problems Mayday mentioned. Scary, to say the least. Being a pilot myself I have laughed at the attempt to bring this aerocar to the market but now I am worried for anybody who flies or drives it. There are better things to spend your R&D dollars on I am sure. The only positive side I can see is that the FAA is pretty strict so if they certify this craft then it must meet all the saftey and operational standards of other LSA aircraft.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (2) Jun 30, 2010
How long have they said this? No to mention you won't ever get the "true flying cars" of the movies because you won't ever get anti-gravity.
Mr_Man
3.2 / 5 (5) Jun 30, 2010
Where would you take off and land the car? An airport? Then just use an airplane..
KronosDeret
1 / 5 (1) Jun 30, 2010
That has to be pretty heavy with that gasoline motor. If i should invest in pair of wings... give me ultralight for two and Im happy bug :)
antialias
3.8 / 5 (4) Jun 30, 2010
Unless take-off, flight-path, air traffic control and landing are fully automated I'd rather not put something like this in the hands of the average motorist.

While they quote the mpg on the ground I'd like to see the mpg while airborne (including take-off!). I suspect it is slightly higher than for ground travel? Do we really need smaller vehicles that use more fuel in the current situation regarding oil prices/availability?
TopherTO
4 / 5 (2) Jun 30, 2010
Surprised in this "new" age of terrorism, this would be approved.

No airport, no paperwork, no security...just give it gas on an open stretch and away you go.

GaryB
3 / 5 (1) Jun 30, 2010
Great. People need only 20 hours of instruction to fly something that looks harder to fly and land than a normal plane. This is going to work out well -- I'm buying me an umbrella.
trekgeek1
4 / 5 (1) Jun 30, 2010
This is going to be disastrous. I agree with some of the previous comments; strange aircraft with only 20 hours of experience = in flight accident which then falls onto normal freeway traffic or city block for a two fold accident. I realize the range is better, but I think that if you really want a personal flying craft, wait until the Puffin from NASA or something similar becomes available for the public. Don't mix a car and plane, it won't perform either function well.
boznz
3 / 5 (2) Jun 30, 2010
I would think that serious pilots wouldnt buy or fly this type of craft..
Hey, I'm not a serious pilot and I'd buy one if I had the money, so I guess your right.
FunkyDude
2 / 5 (1) Jun 30, 2010
Wow, that's some heck of a blind spot, good luck driving that on the highway, or parallel parking in the city! Why not just call it what it really is, a plane that looks like a car?
bredmond
2 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2010
Somebody mentioned it above and i agree, the flying part needs to be fully automated before i can agree that anybody should get to fly. too many accidents in 2 dimensions already. just think if somebody can fly over populated areas and then accidentally crash. maybe with map programs like google earth, etc. people can just point on a spot and it will take you there. or maybe it can be restriced to certain airspaces. anyway, maybe in the not too distant future, materials can be made that are lighter, stronger, and can change shape more smoothly. something like memory metals. that way the compromise in shape between plane and car doesnt have to be so significant.
Aliensarethere
2 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2010
Wow, that's some heck of a blind spot, good luck driving that on the highway, or parallel parking in the city! Why not just call it what it really is, a plane that looks like a car?


Good point. It would probably not be approved for the road here in Denmark. I thought they were pretty strict in US too, what happened ?
Quantum_Conundrum
2 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2010
I would much rather see a nation-wide infrastructure of mag-lev passenger trains and mag-lev automobiles and the roads to drive them on, than to see yet another "flying car" design in an article.

I would like to see our existing wheeled automobiles and asphalt and concrete roads replaced with an infrastructure of mag-lev roads and automobiles to go on them.

In our existing capitalistic economic model, it is highly unlikely we will ever see this, even though the technology has existed for decades and is far superior to what we use now...
janna
4.5 / 5 (2) Jul 02, 2010
I think the flying should be fully automated . traffic
control - computerized paths - the flyer just has to put in the destination - to prevent accidents - for safety .
fixer
not rated yet Jul 03, 2010
If cars were invented today, you couldn't get them approved with current legislation.
Look back at the last 100 years and you will see why!
And yet we have cars...
All the safety aids are available so there is no reason why these car/planes can't be produced, I live in the country miles from anywhere and so it would be a great benefit to people like me.
City people can walk,drive,catch a bus/taxi/train or buy a helicopter.
Embrace the future not the past!
jimbo92107
not rated yet Jul 04, 2010
We blithely accept thousands of deaths per year from car accidents, and you think this car won't fly? They'll sell by the hundreds, and yes, some of them will crash. That, folks, is progress. Certainly there will be AI for these someday, but that'll be several years down the road. All the bad things predicted will happen, yet more such vehicles will be made. If you're really worried, stay in the basement.
Newbeak
not rated yet Jul 04, 2010
Better to hold out for a Moller Sky Car,if it ever gets past it's interminable development stage.
BTW,the FAA is studying a new highly automated air traffic control system,which would allow non-pilots to fly Sky Cars totally under computer control.Not sure if this would extend to vehicles like the Transition.
KingDWS
not rated yet Jul 04, 2010
When this goes on sale you will be able to buy a car that has problems or a aircraft that fly poorly.

Won't comment on the driving part but the flying bit is scarey. Look at the deflection of the control surfaces on the tail. See how much deflection it needs just to stay sort of level. You put that much into a Cessna or almost anything else and you would loop it. Watch the video for the instability during take off and landing. Even larger control to get the nose off then having to quickly find the spot to fly out.

As intersting as flying cars are they are all poor autos and poor aircraft and cost more than both. As well as the security stuff we now have a new thing called rental cars that you usually grab when you get there.

Moller is just a hole to throw money in. A friend of mine worked for him and its not much more than smoke and mirrors. Look at the hundreds of millions he has conned out of investors for 25 plus years.
pubwvj
not rated yet Jul 04, 2010
This is such a massively BAD idea. Drivers are awful enough in 2-D. In the air they're going to be far worse. Do you really want these idiots flying over your home? Private airplanes crashing into homes, schools and other buildings is already a growing problem.
antialias
not rated yet Jul 05, 2010
If you want a flying car then they should incorporate something like this:
http://www.youtub...ujjP5J-k

(with rotors that are guarded by a cage of course)

Stable, redundant, can be flown by simply entering a GPS coordinate, and minimal take-off/landing space required.
JDupre
not rated yet Jul 05, 2010
>.<

Some of these comments make me want to facepalm.

You can't just buy one of these and fly it. And it's not just 20 hours of flight training... it's 20 hours of IN AIR FLIGHT TRAINING, and that's on top of the several hours classroom instruction. You don't just buy one of these and fly it off the lot, so the general idiot population can just "fly" them. It's a giant financial and time investment to get your private pilots license, and the general population won't have the money for the lessons, let alone the price of this vehicle. It includes all the tools and instruments a light aircraft would, so I don't see what you pansies are all worrying about. It's no different than all the Cessnas you see at a local air club.

It's not attractive as a car or a aircraft, but its a step to the future, and hopefully helps bring the air industry a few steps forward.

Cheers for progression.
MadPutz
not rated yet Jul 05, 2010
Autonomous computer driving will become widespread on ground cars far before efficient vehicle levitation is achieved. The technological barriers for networked automatic computer driving + voluntary manual driving with embedded safety boundaries is far lower than the fine physics needed to have practical flying cars.

But this car/plane is a step in the right direction, and should get more public minds aware of possibilities - which always compels scientific and commercial minds, the key to accelerated progress in a field.
HeloMenelo
1 / 5 (2) Jul 05, 2010
Someone mentioned the Puffin, How about an update on that project, it's the most efficient looking concept i've ever seen, in hover one can use 2 tiny wings deploying at the sides with motors to counteract the torque of the main prop/rotor, for flight, bigger wings can deploy like retractable landing gear. C'mon Physorg give us an update!
HeloMenelo
1 / 5 (2) Jul 05, 2010
I beleive this announcement serves to inspire us
to create the personal air vehicles/flying cars of tomorrow, If moller could've pulled it off it would've been one good looking flying car, The Puffin is my favorite thus far, Then there's the springtail.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (2) Jul 05, 2010
Just imagine how many people will be killed by drunk drivers each year when these hit the market.

Not to mention,your "friendly" neighborhood Muslim will want one of these. Does anyone really want to give a Muslim easy access to an airplane? They'll be dive bombing businesses and sporting events everywhere for sure.
VOR
not rated yet Jul 07, 2010
this is probably the best effort so far to do this.
But somehow I still think it could be a bit better.
I wonder whats the engine HP. I think car fuel is a great idea. I wonder if its water-cooled too. For that price it needs to have a lot of carbon-fiber.
fixer
not rated yet Jul 07, 2010
People can always do better, but you have to start somewhere.
Not everyone is a criminal, think positive!
Newbeak
not rated yet Jul 07, 2010
If you want a flying car then they should incorporate something like this:
http://www.youtub...ujjP5J-k

(with rotors that are guarded by a cage of course)

Stable, redundant, can be flown by simply entering a GPS coordinate, and minimal take-off/landing space required.

Yes,I agree! I am amazed at how stable these things are.Only problem is you would have to use fuel burning engines-batteries wouldn't keep it up very long. The Germans had a tandem rotor copter in WWII that was quite stable and successful.