But we're not talking about a flying car. The Transition is a "roadable aircraft." The team makes this distinction clear in conversation, on Terrafugia T-shirts, and in big, blue letters on the side of the trailer outside their shop.
The flying car has been a mainstay of our imagined transportation future for as long as there have been automobiles and airplanes: fanciful vehicles that promise to have us commuting like George Jetson. Scores of garage inventors have spent their lives creating detailed designs, scale models, even working prototypes. In the 1950s, Molt Taylor, a former Navy pilot, flew a few versions of his Aerocar, an plane/car hybrid that attached to a separate, towable set of wings and a tail. But he couldn't sign up enough customers to turn it into a business.
Now, the people who are closest to making that dream real—putting a car in the air, whatever they call it—are about the least starry-eyed folks you could meet. Terrafugia co-founder Carl Dietrich, 31, winces at that idea. "I'd hesitate to call any of us visionaries," he says. "We're engineers."
Unfortunately, that sober approach doesn't make their task any easier. Dietrich's team intends to manufacture and sell several hundred Transitions a year. That means doing things that no flying-car hopefuls before them ever have: Build an aircraft that can take potholes and protect its occupants if it slams into a brick wall at 30 miles an hour. Do it cheaply and reliably, again and again. Score passing grades from all those federal agencies. Find someone to insure it.
The sooner we get these on the road/in the air, the sooner we'll start seeing them become mainstream. The rich have to start buying them (to get the maket started) before regular joes like me can afford them.
I have a hard time seeing these things become mainstream anytime soon. There is just waay to many safety regulations and other things that i would assume need to be passed. Plus, didn't they say a while back that the only flying cars that would ever be mainstream are ones that fly by themselves on invisible highways. Surely we can't expect something that requires a pilot license to ever become mainstream. I think it will always be for those that already own planes.. and i do not know anyone in real life that owns a plane.. so much for mainstream :(.
Even if it was possible, would take this day and age waaay to long to implement something like this i think. Way to many regulations.
It looks similar as a conventional small plane.
How would we get ppl there licenses?
It is clear that Dietrich isn't marketing the Transition for car owners. His aim is for the new market of sport pilots, a market that should increase due to the FAA regulation that makes it easier to obtain a pilots license.
The emphasis here is placed on the fact that the Transition is a Plane you Drive Home, rather than a Car that you can Fly. The difference is that there is a realistic market for the first statement and no market for the second.
Unfortunately, flying through the air is far more complicated than driving down the road. With the Y axis, wind turbulence, landing and takeoff, and a long list of other variables, flight will be out of reach from common man for quite some time, or until technology finds a way to eliminate these obstacles.
However, for an aspiring aeronautical enthusiast, this is a ray of hope for two reasons. One, because the Transition will fall under the Light-Sport Aircraft category, acquiring a pilots license will take half the time of obtaining a regular pilots license. Two, the Transition is more formidable to weekend flying because you avoid hanger costs and the Transition also has the practicality of transporting itself from your garage to the runway.
To put it bluntly, the Transition is for those who want to see the sights and fly as a recreation, not for picking up the kids from school. Don’t expect to find one at your local car dealership.
Hmmm, just a comment.... hope this one has a built in auto pilot and they should be limited only to certain heights. Seeing lots of them in the air like flies in the future would prove to be dangerous especially if they accidentally collide with each other (what more with a passenger jet). A collision on the road is dangerous enough what more with lots of these airborne things flying around. =(
I think the Transition would be great for island hopping, or as a air taxi between cities.
This thing is a gimmick. It is not as practical for flying as an actual plane, and it is not as practical for driving as an actual car. It would be a lot cheaper and more efficient if they simply made the vehicle a dedicated aircraft. Flying cars are novelties nothing more.
I think its about time a flying car has finally come to reality. Its the non imagineative people who down such great advances. More power to flying cars. Craig
traffic is going to be a problem...
Well this is cool. Mayby in the future people dont have go to driving schools anymore, they can go to flying school.
I think that after flying cars comes to sales, and gets more and more popular, the number of flying schools will increase too.
I want one
Godspeed! I hope I see them flying all over the place.
It seems to me that the only people who would buy these are the folks with more money than sense. Great idea, but it just seems like there are too many hoops for the owner to have to jump through for a product that expensive.
How would you regulate ... air? ... traffic, by the way? The "Highway Air Traffic Act?" If the drivers of this car are anything like ones where I live, I would really hope this vehicle will be limited to the very few and very rich.
But then again, a car like this would never fly (excuse the pun) in this area. Here people don't buy it unless it's jacked up 30 feet in the air on 10 foot tires and has the dirty rotten squeal of a turbo diesel. Although, this car may be useful for passing such trucks ... a quick hop maybe?
I found this article an informative expose on the future of vehicular transportation. The superb engineering prowess demonstrated by Mr. Dietrich and his team, and the detailed consideration given to every aspect of design and construction of this vehicle will serve as a blueprint for future advances in vehicular transportation. But I did note one particular discrepancy. For some reason, the author of this article included the perspective of a less-than-visionary spokesperson who found it necessary to refer to any inventor who is not supported by notoriety and funding as a “crank tinkering in his garage.” I am reminded of a few such “cranks”, from William Harley and the Davidson brothers, whose first workshop was little more than a small shed; to Preston Tucker, another such “crank”, who developed many unique vehicle design ideas that decades later became common automotive features. And I can only imagine what that limited individual would have thought of the biggest “crank” of all, who envisioned calculators, helicopters, hydraulics and solar energy centuries before they were actually developed. The limitations demonstrated by this questionable individual are a notable blemish on an otherwise excellent article.
I have to say this is the first viable design of a roadable aircraft, and I think these MIT engineers will be making history at the end of 2009.
I love the idea. I even designed something like this car when I was a teenager in high school. But I doubt this will ever be something mainstream. Here's my opinion:
1. Something that flies will never be roadable enough to withstand the physical abuses that cars take. If you park this thing at a supermarket and someone opens their door into your wing...There are too many road hazards that cars run over and don't care because they don't have to fly. But if you ever miss some structural damage = you're dead once you're in the air.
2. If you can't take off from your house, you still have to drive to the airport. That takes time in traffic. Once you get to the airport you have to go by aircraft flying rules. More time. When you land at your destination you still have to drive to your final one. When you add these times together versus the cost of owning this thing + the awkward looks, it's just not worth it. It's much easier and safer to simply buy a car and an airplane, drive the car to the airport, get into your plane, fly to wherever you're going and simply rent a car there. Done. No headache and each vehicle is designed for their specific task without compromise.
3. Can you imagine picking up a date in this contraption? I can't imagine any young girl getting into one without feeling embarrassed. It's not exactly James Bond slick! Wings fold and just stay there, the big tail, weird canard/bumper. You'll be the laughing stock of any community if you take it out. Drive it to the grocery store? Ridiculous.
So, therefore it will be just an interesting oddity, a curio, a clever design but that's about it. If you want a real "flying car" it must look "cool" and slick like the stuff from science fiction. It should not have half folded wings sticking out. The only design that ever came close was the LaBische FSC-1. But the most important part is that you can fly it right from your house or from any freeway and land anywhere. This will probably never happen because if you thought traffic accidents are bad, can you imagine flying cars raining down on people due to drunks, idiots ,irresponsible teenagers or half awake grandmothers flying over your head!
I figure that you would get your pilots license just like you do now. You go out to the airport, fly your LSA for the required number of hours and pass a test with an FAA examiner. As far as regulating air traffic or the "skies being full of these things", I just don't see where this is a problem. If you have to go to an airport to take off and land, then you should have to follow the Federal Aviation Regulations to fly it. Maintain your Visual Flight Rules cruising altitudes (odd thousands + 500ft eastbound, even thousands + 500ft westbound), file flight plans on your way to the airport, get there, get in line to take off and go. Get in the air, talk to ATC to get "flight following" and get to your destination. The big problem right now is that big airports are too crowded, not the skies in general.
The dumbest thing any would-be "Skycar" inventor would do is to make it and tell people that it could take off from any road and land on any road. This would make things way too chaotic. One thing that would make it a little better is if you didn't have to drive to the airport. If you have a couple of acres, why not make a landing strip behind your house. Or even better, live in an airpark community. Then you have 15 different families sharing the costs of building and maintaining a runway. This way you leave out the driving to the airport! You pull out of your garage, unfold your wings, do your pre-flight inspection and go. This could possibly cut your trip time in half, depending on how fast this thing can fly. Of course, small airplanes are most economical on flights that would take you at least 3 hours to drive. Another big factor in that statement is in the fuel consumption of this "roadable aircraft".
Another thing that could make this more feasible is if they get it certified for IFR flights, not just playing around VFR. Then again, you would have to get your instrument rating on your pilot's license, but it is definately necessary. There have been way to many accidents where pilots with no instrument trainging have run into IFR conditions and lost control and gone spiralling into the ground (think JFK junior).
As far as being easier to drive to the airport, fly where you want to go, and then renting a car when you get there, it's not always feasible. If your going to meet with a client that lives in some small town, there may not even be a rental car agency around.
I think these guys have a neat idea. It may never become mainstream because it is much more of a novelty than a necessity, but they have gone about this in the right way as far as their business plan is concerned. I think it could do well with people who were planning on getting their Sport Pilot certificate anyway. At this point, it will be just like any other aircraft, the people who have the money will have one and the people who don't have enough money for it (like me) will be driving along cursing those who have money to throw away.
Hmmmm to me this looks like the Aptera a little bit.
I Do not think this is very practice If you are driving and you get clipped, how much is the repair cost?? You just can't go to you're local mechanic.
I like it though, if I was filthy rich I would rather buy this then another Lamborghini
Keep up the good work, Terrafugia! Looks like you will have a car that flies, and a plane that is roadable! I'm very certain that the Transition will fly, and we will see these carplanes or planecars (or whatever their generic name becomes) in the air and on the road soon.
They will not become as common as Toyotas or even Mini Coopers. There will be a small nitche market for them I think. They don't have to be an excellent car and an excellent plane - nor will they be. But there will be some people that the Transition is just what they want.
As a pilot, engineer, an Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) member, and one who has been to the EAA Conventions in Oshkosh and Lakeland a few times, I've seen lots of small companies with good ideas, grand plans and always limited on funds to get their project to 100% completion. Usually there are one or more technical "gotchas" in their design. The Transition may have a few of these - maybe the insurance problem (very expensive if someone dings your door) and problems with stability on the road. But hopefully Terrafugia will persevere. Tackling problems one by one works. Project schedules slip, but that's ok, as long as the money holds out.
As an aircraft, it certainly is not going to be a responsive, sports aircraft. In pilots lingo, it will be a pig. That's ok, it will be a very cool pig. It will fly, just not as agile and fun as a Glasair or Pitts.
As a car, it will be a bit squirrely, I predict. Drivers will want to keep to the back roads and side streets. But gust from a passing 18 wheeler doing 65 in a 45 may send the Transition's driver a hell of a scare. Hopefully the designer's have addressed these aerodynamic forces adequately. The NHTSA (highway safety folks) will no doubt be looking at these scenarios before they give it the thumbs up.
Way back in 1949, Molt Taylor completed his first Aerocar - the only certified airplane (by the US CAA - now the FAA) ever built that could also drive on highways. It is a dream that still lives. I wish the engineers at Terrafugia all the luck in the world at keeping this dream alive. I hope that they have great success with the Transition. I hope we get to see a Transition II, III, and IV. But most of all, I hope that I get to fly one!
It's fun to see inventors at work on projects like this. The evolution of travel has always included some oddities, which with the passing of time "transition" into mature usable vehicles. The first passenger locomotive was the equivalent of a glorified stagecoach, and first automobiles were far from practical, reliable transportation.
This may turn into a niche vehicle as others have mentioned, or perhaps it's a baby step toward the future of travel. However, it's frightening to think of any knucklehead being able to legally fly on a daily basis. That idea of the expense of this plane/car keeping stupidity from behind the wheel is not foolproof, either. Single engine planes crash all the time from pilot error.
All we need is MORE wrecks, but this time they start in the air then crash into the ground! GREAT IDEA!!! I think I'm totally agaist the average person having this vehicle. Toooooo risky!
Finally some one has actually had the nerve to manufacture one of these "flying cars" people have been talking about for ages. People have been building them for years, but never producing them, but Dietrich managed to change that. But, who knows if this plane/car will actually work since they haven't formally driven or flown it yet. This flying car will either be a historical success or an epic fail.
The whole idea of an airplane that is street legal sounds good, but in reality it is too hard to balance between the safety and ability of a car and the safety and ability of an aircraft. For $194,000 dollars you could buy a very nice car that would look good and perform exceptionally well. A whole other problem is getting a pilot or sports pilot license and that is just another one of those things that you have to spend time and go do. Anyways who would want to drive around in one of those vehicles, the only useful function of the Transition would be to drive to the airport and back home!
The idea of a flying car has been around for a long time, so when it actually becomes a reality, it will be a pretty big deal. The fact that a pilot’s license is needed to fly it is kind of disappointing. Most people would probably want the aircraft to avoid the traffic. Also, if you would have to drive out to a runway, why not just take a real airplane to wherever you need to go? It is a really good idea and has obviously been thought through.
The Transition will require a pilots license. This, along with the $200,000 plus price tag (don't forget all the taxes!) will keep this carplane out of the hands of many. It will be expensive to buy, and expensive to maintain - aircraft are required to undergo annual inspections by a licensed aircraft mechanic,and airplane parts are never cheap.
Pilot's licenses aren't easy to get, but they are easily doable for anyone who has some ambition and at least average intelligence. When I got mine twenty two or more years ago, it took the average person 4-6 months of studying, flying on good weather days and hanging around the airport to learn as much as you could about the machines that you were trusting with your life. It cost about $3000 in instructor and plane rental time. I'd guess it is now 3X this much.
This seems a little off of the SciFi channel... Flying cars? Think of the hazards... I would copy and paste what AtomicDynamo said, but that would be a rude ditto to me.
But what's the goal of this? I'm not asking "What's the goal of this team", because that's obvious; "To make a flying car." But what I'm really asking... What will a flying car do? What's the good out of it if you have to go off of a runway just to go to work or the store if it will take you even longer just to drive down to the AirPort in the first place? These people just want to have cool cars. Flying cars. My point is that it's a worse idea than any vehicle I've seen before. The hazards of drunk drivers? Look at the drunk PILOTS!
This sounds cool. The flying part. But the limits of owning this thing are too much of a draw back from making it a reliable cruiser that I'll be taking to work someday...
Some of you seem to be falling into the "flying car" trap with the idea that any Tom, Dick or Mary could just hop in and take to the skies with nothing more than the DMV license we all carry with us today. The Transition will require a pilot's license - granted, a lower-time license, but a pilot's license all the same. These are more strictly regulated than the DMV licenses and, if I'm not mistaken, a single DUI in the car can cost a pilot their license - possible permanently.
There are already hundreds (if not thousands) of sports pilots flying today in planes that are not roadable. They drive to the airport, fly their plane, land at the airport and drive home. The only difference here is convenience for the pilot who was going to buy a plane anyway. Take, for example, the doctor or business professional who lives in Poughkeepsie, NY and wants to work on Long Island for a day, week or whatever. With the Transition, he doesn't have to leave his personal car at the local airport in Poughkeepsie (where he has to pay hangar fees to store his plane, by the way) while he flies to Laguardia and rents/owns/leases a second car for getting from Laguardia to work. Add in possible parking garage fees at both airports, insurance on two cars plus a plane, and time to transfer belongings from car to plane to car at the airports and the Transition starts making a LOT of sense.
Ya it's cool, but, really, can you see these driving down the highways next to a 'PINTO'?First of all, even if you have an authorized/certified pilots licence, you can't just spread your wings and launch off the free/high/road and/or carriageway at your own free will!It requires strict government authorization and locations to take to the skies.As a child, this was an amazing concept, but even if you have all the skills and vehicle, it is still grossly regulated!EVEN IF, you could take off at any desired location, it would take an extremely complex network of áir traffic controllers'to safely navigate these craft...and who would pay for this?Just like, with SEGWAY and electric bikes, the municipal regulations are applied as seen necessary to each community.For example, in some cities the SEGWAY is not a motor vehcle or a non motorized vehicle, so they have to create an entirely new catagory of it's own!Now, the municipality sets terms and conditions on the craft as it deams necessary.I can only predict that FLYING VEHICLES are subject to the maximized regulatoy procedures
I'm not sure if your a pilot or not so excuse me if you are but I'm going to respond for those who arent.
Check out the Transport Canada site. There you will find something called "CARS" which is the Canadian Air Regulations. Its a very large publication that contains all the laws associated with flight. Within that there is reference to another large publication that dictates the regulations regarding the requirements of any "air craft" to be legal permitted to operate within Canadian air space. None of these regulations are Municipal but rather are Federal. Your local mayor has very little say about aircraft in general, just the local area.
The licensing question is kind of funny. The "Sticker Price" of a pilots license (What you see) is very reasonable. The actual price is never that cheap. Where I got my Private, the "Sticker Price" was 6K, the real price by the time all was said and done was $17K. There is also no guarentee that you'll actually get a license after spending a ton of cash either. I knew one fellow who was ready for his x-country work but was still making too many serious mistakes to be allowed to do solo circuits.
I really dont thing we're going to see personal flight for the masses anytime in any of our lifetimes. Here's why.
First, theres the question of training. You can't just pull over when things go wrong up there. The vast majority aren't ready for the emergency training thats part of a pilots license.
Second, as a flight enthusist, before my lisence, I figured I understood it all cause hey, I could fly a plane in Flight sim. Its really that simple but the 50 hours of ground school teaches just how bad and how fast you can kill yourself doing things you would have thought perfectly normal!
Third, Do you really, truely beleive the public is responsible enough to put their cell phones away, stop texting and watch out for the planes their about to hit head on? Too many aren't responsible enough to walk never mind fly.
Forth, flight, for most people, is a complete waste. I have a lisence but I have absolutely no use for it except fun. Its not like I could fly to work, my home and work are near the same airport. Even if they werent Id need another car at the other airport! Then the problem of weather comes up. I may be able to get to work but if the weather goes bad how do I get home? That's assuming I took my private lisence which included a meteorology component. If Im not mistaken, the Sport license is a bit soft on that and Nav.
hmm lets see, insurance for a new pilot is $500/month minimum, parking is $175/month in my area at the cheapest location for an outside tie down and landing fees at some airports and we dont even have a plane yet.
I was a part of that majority who wanted to fly but didn't have the license. I thought I understood it all. I even have friends who feel their RC flying makes them pilots cause, "its all the same". Meanwhile they don't even have the basic streight and are following common misconceptions. Its one of those things that you know until you get there and realize how much you didn't know. And the biggest thing you find out you didn't know is how much cash you were going to part with to answer that question!