A New Drivable Aircraft For Terrafugia
Like its first flying car, The Transition, which is still at least two years away from production with a tentative scheduled date of 2015, Terrafugia has unveiled a new design for a future second product, the TF-X, which will allow you to drive like a car on the ground and then take off in the air like a plane, although much more similar to a helicopter than a plane. Not to mention the best part about this whole thing is, a runway isn’t necessary! Simply head to the closest helipad, or even a parking lot, and take off using the tilt-rotor technology.
So, how does it work? In a nutshell, the four-seat plug-in hybrid-electric flying car would lift off vertically using propellers located on its wings. The props would then rotate from a vertical to a horizontal position for regular flight. Although at least a decade from actual production, its lightweight but strong carbon-fiber skin combined with the compact and powerful engine design makes the TF-X the “next logical progression vehicle.”
The vehicle will “further increase the safety, simplicity, and convenience of personal aviation by using state-of-the-art intelligent systems and other technology,” Terrafugia said. The company’s Chief Executive and Chief Technology Officer, Carl Dietrich, went on to state in a press release that, “This is the right time for us to begin thinking about the future of the company beyond The Transition development. We are passionate about continuing to lead the creation of a flying car industry and are dedicating resources to lay the foundations for our vision of personal transportation.”
Founded in Woburn, Mass. by pilot-engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, their main objective is to continue building practical flying cars, and while the company’s first vehicle, The Transition is still undergoing test flights and drive tests to evaluate its durability, there will not be any specific dates set for certification and initial production of the TF-X.
“We felt this was our time to share our vision of the future. Though the new flying car design isn’t likely to take off for another decade, if you don’t start today, it won’t happen,” says Richard Gersh, Vice President of Business Development for Terrafugia.
Of course with any new and out of the box idea, especially with innovative technology advancement comes many questions and a lot of skeptics. But Terrafugia has already proven to be way ahead of the game with The Transition, which has previously gone through two design phases and has 50 hours of flight time and “quite a bit of driving on the ground,” Gersh says.
Nevertheless, there’s still a lot more work to be done in regards to the makeup, but more importantly, it has to meet all safety requirements for both an aircraft and a car. But, Paul Moller of Moller International says he knows the difficulties of building the new design, but that Terrafugia is a “pretty impressive” company that just might be able to pull it off.