Terrafugia Roadable Aircraft Post-Flight Report

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Terrafugia last week celebrated the public announcement of the successful first test flights made by its two-seat roadable folding-wing aircraft, the Transition, March 5, and maintains its intent to deliver production models for under $200,000 and by 2011. Test pilot Col. (Ret) Phil Meteer reported that the test vehicle remained stable on the ground through 90 mph in earlier tests and said that in flight the aircraft was both "smooth" and "controlled" exhibiting stability that was "rock solid." Meteer said, "the rotation speed [70 knots] is 25 knots above stall speed [45 knots]," and that helps make the vehicle very stable in car mode and after landing. The first flight was filmed and took place over the runway at Plattsburg, N.Y., where the aircraft became airborne after an extended ground roll and with large control deflections. Under non-test conditions, the company predicts the Transition will take off over a 50-foot obstacle in 1700 feet. Per the test pilot, the aircraft touched down at 70 knots with 2000 feet of runway remaining (a 1,000-foot overrun was available). With four-wheel braking, the pilot said the Transition came to a stop in about 500 feet.

Terrafugia aims to develop the 100-hp Transition as a light sport aircraft that becomes a legally roadable vehicle thanks in part to folding wings. Terrafugia says it will get 30 mpg on the ground and will offer a range of more than 460 miles while flying at 100 knots through the air. Terrafugia is targeting a purchase price of $194,000 and is accepting orders with a fully refundable $10,000 reservation deposit. The company hopes to deliver to its first customers in 2011.