Sucheta Dalal :From highway to skyway in a flying car
Sucheta Dalal

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From highway to skyway in a flying car  

November 4, 2009


You may not need to be a Harry Potter from a School of Magic to ride in a flying car. US-based company, Terrafugia has successfully tested its prototype of 'Transition Roadable Aircraft' and is planning to start first customer delivery of the flying car in 2011.
Terrafugia was founded in 2006 by award-winning MIT-trained aeronautical engineers and MBAs —who also happen to be passionate private pilots. Taking advantage of new regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), an agency of the US Department of Transportation in the Light Sport Aircraft category, Terrafugia developed the Transition to provide pilots the convenience of a dual-purpose vehicle.
The unique design allows Transition to fold its wings and drive on a road creating a modern personal airplane platform. Once at the airport, after expanding the wings, the aircraft is ready for take-off. Both folding and extending the wings is done from inside the cockpit.
In June, Terrafugia successfully completed the flight testing program designed for the Transition Roadable Aircraft with the Proof of Concept (PoC).
Transition Roadable Car or the flying car is a two-seat aircraft designed to take off and land at local airports and drive on any road. Transforming from plane to car takes the pilot less than 30 seconds. The Transition can fly up to 450 miles at a speed of over 115 miles per hour while on road it can run at a speed of 80 miles per hour. It also fits in a standard household garage.
The vehicle has front wheel drive on the road and a propeller for flight. Both modes are powered by unleaded automotive gasoline (petrol). As a plane, the Transition is 19 feet, 2 inches long; 6 feet 3 inches tall and has a wingspan of 27.5 feet. After folding the wings it turns into a car which is only 80 inches wide and 6 feet 9 inches tall.
You can book the Transition Roadable Aircraft by depositing $10,000 with the company until Terrafugia can arrange for a purchase agreement. The expected price for Transition is $195,000 or just under Rs1 crore.
However, while technological genius may have created a flying car, security considerations could easily ground it. One already has visions of suicide bombers flying into buildings with no one to stop them. So, while auto buffs track the ‘Transition’ for its technology, the rest of us will watch if government and security agencies allow its commercial debut.
-Yogesh Sapkale [email protected]


-- Sucheta Dalal