Terrafugia Proof-of-Concept To Fly Soon, Company Says

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Terrafugia CEO Carl Dietrich says his Transition flying car — which he prefers to call a “roadable aircraft” — will fly by the end of this year, and customer deliveries will start by the end of 2009. Dietrich brought his proof-of-concept prototype to EAA AirVenture this week, and says it will be certified as a light sport aircraft, which will require some further refinements in the next version, to reduce the weight. It will use super-unleaded auto gas, so you can drive to the pump and fill up, and it will burn about 4.5 gallons per hour at 100 knots. The prototype is powered by a Rotax 912S. The company’s work so far has been funded by private investors, who wish to remain anonymous, Dietrich said, and he expects no problems with continuing to fund his development plans. “We’ve been very successful at raising money,” he said. The company is now taking $5,000 fully refundable deposits, and the aircraft sells for $194,000. Dietrich says the next delivery slot available is about number 50.

The Transition, with its wings mechanically folded, will fit in your garage, and when you are ready to go, you can just drive it to the airport, click a lever to fold the wings down, and take off. The vehicle’s flexibility has a safety bonus, says Dietrich. “One of the leading causes of GA accidents is continued VFR flight into deteriorating weather,” he observed. “There are no good options.” Either the pilot takes a chance and presses on, or faces certain delays by landing short of his destination. The Transition offers a better option — just land, and drive wherever you want to go. The company, which is based in Woburn, Mass., started among a group of engineering students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has been developing its ideas for several years. Dietrich said he expects there may be a market for about a few hundred Transitions per year.