Remember the flying car invented by Terrafugia? We showcased it in PM a couple of years back, recalling similarly inspired – but markedly less sophisticated – vehicles that never quite made the grade. Well, this concept is destined to move the proverbial goalposts: it not only flies, but is actually a few steps from production.
HAVING COMPLETED a successful test flight, the Transition Street-Legal Airplane is now a significant step closer to becoming a commercial reality – and for once, the sceptics and naysayers are silent. Developed by US company Terrafugia Inc, the Transition is a folding-wing, two-seater aircraft that can be driven on roads and highways, parked in a single-car garage, and own with ordinary unleaded fuel.
Terrafugia co-founder Carl Dietrich is obviously upbeat about its prospects, commenting: “The first flight of the Transition production prototype is a major milestone for Terrafugia. With this flight, the team demonstrated an ability to accomplish what had been called an impossible dream. We look forward to continuing to show that the challenges of bringing a practical street-legal airplane to market can be overcome. We are on our way up – literally and figuratively!”
The Transition’s first flight reached an altitude of 420 m and lasted eight minutes, while staying in the vicinity of Plattsburgh International Airport (USA), demonstrating the aircraft’s controllability and safe operational characteristics. Six phases of flight testing are planned to continue development and demonstrate compliance to Light Sport Aircraft standards.
Terrafugia’s chief test pilot, Phil Meteer, said afterwards: “It’s a remarkable vehicle – both on the road and, now, in the air. A long-overdue mode of transportation and fun is just around the corner. I can’t wait for the upcoming flight tests and the chance to ‘wring it out’, demonstrating how safe and enjoyable the Transition is to fly.” The aircraft’s first customer is expected to take delivery later this year.