Terrafugia Transition - Closer Than You Think
The Transition is a two-seat road-worthy light aircraft currently under development by Terrafugia, a privately held and funded company began in 2004 by pilots and engineers out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
by Ross Bonander, Contributing Writer
- Manufacturer: Terrafugia
- Type: Light Sport Aircraft
- Class: MotorcycleLight-Sport Airplane (LSA)
- Propulsion system: 100 hp Rotax 912 S (four-stroke)
- Top Speed: air, 100 kts, road 51 mph
- Zero-to-60: NA
- MPG: 30mpg (air as well as road)
- Vehicle range: air, 400 nautical miles (460 miles); road, 80 miles
- Fuel(s): Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)
- Tailpipe emissions: Yes, but minimal
- Estimated Price: $194,000
The Manufacturer Says
“The Transition® is a roadable Light-Sport Aircraft that will be able to land at the airport, fold up its wings, and drive on the road.”
The Critics Say...
"While it’s not the sort of flying car you might imagine where you can just decide to fly over a traffic jam on a whim, it is a step forward in the flying-car dream and fills a small niche market of aviation enthusiasts who want to drive their plane to the airport and then fly it somewhere." -- Motor Authority
The Transition is a two-seat road-worthy light aircraft currently under development by Terrafugia, a privately held and funded company began in 2004 by pilots and engineers out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The company is led by aeronautical whiz kid and Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winner Carl Dietrich (a name we all may be very, very familiar with in the future), and the Transition’s current completion date is late 2008 with a late 2009 delivery.
"The Transition, unlike some of the alternative flying cars, features standard car tires and runs on normal pump fuel, ensuring its utility as a road vehicle will be as high as such a hybrid design can reach." -- Motor Authority
What We Like
Commitment to safety. Terrafugia boasts a safety cage, crumple zones, airbags, a number of in-built pre-flight safety measures, and the possibility of a full-vehicle parachute (approval pending, but that’s hard not to like).
An insurance package. While this is preliminary, the web site offers a pdf file suggesting a “customized insurance package for Transition owners” that would extend coverage to both auto body and aircraft hull. This is uncharted territory, and proof that, if nothing else, the folks at Terrafugia are trying to think of everything.
The transition technology. According to the web site, the transition from plane to car (folding up of the wings, etc) will require nothing more than the push of a button.
The fuel. The 100 hp Rotax four-stroke engine will run on LPG, a far better alternative to conventional gasoline, at least in this instance.
The price. The current price estimate is $148,000.
What We Don’t Like
The class. As a Light-Sport Airplane, the Transition will require a pilot’s license, and no auto-pilot technologies are planned for the aircraft. That said, it will only require a Sport Pilot’s license, which doesn’t take nearly as long as a traditional license.
The performance. The Transition will be something of a gas guzzler, earning around 30 mpg in the air and on the road.
It’s hard at this stage to find too many things to dislike about such a vehicle. Of course everything’s going to look outstanding, because so much of it has yet to be tested. However, the hype surrounding the Transition seems to be grounded in substantially more reasonable specs and expectations than vehicles like the Moller Skycar, and for this reason we think the Transition has a real chance of delivering on most of its many promises.
More information on the Terrafugia Transition at Terrafugia.com
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