Terrafugia: new flying car design to be unveiled in July

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Terrafugia will in July unveil a new design for its roadable aircraft Transition. The vehicle will be lengthened and other structural and aerodynamic changes will be made to achieve automotive and aviation certification.

A first flight is planned for 2011. As well as being longer, the prototype will meet the light sport aircraft category's gross take-off weight limit of 600kg (1,320lb) and will have a roll cage and crumple zones for road use while retaining its wing-folding method and engine type. The Transition has a Rotax 912S engine and can be fuelled with premium unleaded or 100 Low Lead Avgas.

Woburn, Massachusetts-based Terrafugia began work on the beta prototype in May 2009. Chief executive Carl Dietrich says: "We are using Dassault Systemes' Catia software. The finite element analysis tool is very useful. [Optimising the structure] would be bordering on the impractical without the tool."

terrafugia flying car, terrafugia
 © Terrafugia
Terrafugia will in July unveil a new design for its roadable aircraft Transition

Made longer to increase the distance between the pitch axis controls and the wing to improve pitch control, the beta prototype version will still fit inside a standard garage.

The Transition's proof of concept vehicle made 28 flights including its first at Plattsburgh airport in upper New York state on 5 March 2009. Terrafugia had aimed to have the Transition certificated by the end of 2009. Last year the company said that the aircraft was priced at around $200,000 and is designed to fly at 100kt (185km/h) with a 740km (400nm) range while offering highway speeds for land travel.