Terrafugia, Vahana Report Progress

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Terrafugia Transition

Terrafugia Transition

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.”

Airbus Vahana

Airbus Vahana

Comments (5)

So now we Americans have the Chinese come to our rescue and design and build airplanes for us? It's both pathetic and shameful.

Posted by: Ken Keen | November 15, 2017 8:03 AM    Report this comment

This is just the latest example of the Chinese buying American aircraft companies. They already own Cirrus, Mooney and Continental Motors, to name just a few. The other shame is that the Europeans totally dominate the LSA market. Meanwhile, Cessna, Beech and Piper keep cranking out overpriced versions of 40+ year old designs and wonder why sales keep dropping.

Posted by: John McNamee | November 15, 2017 11:42 AM    Report this comment

Not all that "overpriced" when you realize that airplanes these days are virtually hand-made, not quite the assembly line processes of the 1970s. This is a far greater factor in airplane prices than inflation, product liability. Good quality European airplanes are pretty much the same price as American ones for similar reasons. That's my assessment of the situation at least.

Another thing I do not understand is why is it I can buy a remanufactured, zero-time car engine for a couple thousand dollars but a remanufactured airplane engine costs about ten times that!

Also, glass panel cockpits should be much cheaper! All of the technology to do a glass cockpit is in my iPhone, a cheap iPad would certainly suffice as the display. All of the ADS-B "In" you will need costs just $899.

I welcome your comments. I have been a private pilot for 31 years now. I too think the price situation is a shame! Lee

Posted by: Lee Mcgee | November 15, 2017 4:09 PM    Report this comment

Not all that "overpriced" when you realize that airplanes these days are virtually hand-made, not quite the assembly line processes of the 1970s. This is a far greater factor in airplane prices than inflation, product liability. Good quality European airplanes are pretty much the same price as American ones for similar reasons. That's my assessment of the situation at least.

Another thing I do not understand is why is it I can buy a remanufactured, zero-time car engine for a couple thousand dollars but a remanufactured airplane engine costs about ten times that!

Also, glass panel cockpits should be much cheaper! All of the technology to do a glass cockpit is in my iPhone, a cheap iPad would certainly suffice as the display. All of the ADS-B "In" you will need costs just $899.

I welcome your comments. I have been a private pilot for 31 years now. I too think the price situation is a shame! Lee

Posted by: Lee Mcgee | November 15, 2017 4:10 PM    Report this comment

What is truly overpriced in the aircraft and component manufacturing business is product liability insurance. What stifles innovation in aircraft design are product liability suits. (Mr. manufacturer - you only changed the design of the frammis modulator because the old design was defective...) Experimental aircraft manufacturers aren't so burdened by our product liability tort system.

Posted by: Moses Lonn | November 15, 2017 9:09 PM    Report this comment

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