Terrafugia, Vahana Report Progress
Two very different “flying-car” projects have reported major moves forward this week. Terrafugia, which has been working to certify a “roadable aircraft” with folding wings under the LSA rules, confirmed on Monday that it has become a fully owned subsidiary of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, a Chinese conglomerate that also owns Volvo and focuses on the auto industry. “Geely is committed to making the flying car dream a reality,” according to a statement posted at Terrafugia’s website. The group plans to expand Terrafugia’s R&D capabilities in the U.S. as well as in China. "This acquisition is very exciting for all of us at Terrafugia," CEO Carl Dietrich told AVweb. "We finally have the resources needed to deliver!"
Terrafugia has already tripled the number of its U.S.-based engineers from 30 to almost 100, the company said. Terrafugia also said they hope to deliver the first Transition flying car in 2019, and to continue development of the TF-X VTOL, which will debut around 2023.
Also this week, Vahana, an Airbus project, said they have moved their full-scale prototype VTOL electric aircraft from Silicon Valley to Oregon to prep for flight testing. The team has moved into the Pendleton Hangar, a brand-new 9,600-square-foot hangar at the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport that opened in June, specifically configured for the Vahana project. The team also has completed construction of a mobile command center, a customized trailer that can be repositioned as needed for flight testing. An aerodynamically accurate subscale model already has flown and completed several trials of autonomous takeoffs and landings. The company says they plan to start flight tests of the full-scale aircraft “later this year.”