Terrafugia yesterday unveiled its second generation Transition "roadable" aircraft, a more efficient design the company hopes to fly early next year and begin producing as a factory-built light sport aircraft (S-LSA) in late 2011.
The proof-of-concept Transition, which first flew last year, accumulated 28 flights all of which took place over the runway and below 200ft (61m) altitude, says Terrafugia test pilot Phil Meteer. Flights lasted approximately 1 minute.
Along with FAA approval to boost allowable maximum weight by 50kg (110lb) above the 1,320lb LSA limit to allow for highway safety devices, the US National highway traffic safety administration (NHTSA) also qualified the vehicle as a multi-purpose vehicle, allowing for smaller front bumpers. Terrafugia had originally designed a pitchable horizontal stabilizer at the front of the aircraft to double as full-width bumper.
The new design features a single stabilator at the back of the aircraft, with an open rather than closed fuselage bottom that allowed for a larger, three-blade pusher propeller between the twin tail booms. For ground transport, the Transition's 100hp Rotax 912S engine now powers the rear wheels rather than the front wheels.
Terrafugia says it has more than 80 orders for the Transition, which the company had originally expected to sell for $194,000. Officials say they are now re-evaluating the price.