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Terrafugia prepares for low-rate production

US start-up manufacturer Terrafugia says it is "setting up for low-volume production" of its Transition car/light sport aircraft (LSA) as early as late 2011 in a new 1,765m2 (19,000ft2) facility in Woburn, Massachusetts.

Earlier this year Terrafugia secured US approval to boost the maximum take-off weight of the roadable LSA by 50kg (110lb) to 650kg. The approval should help the Transition to meet US highway safety standards, without which it cannot be marketed as a roadable vehicle, says the company.

The latest Transition design was unveiled at the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in July.

Terrafugia flying car, Terrafugia
 © Terrafugia

Compared with the test aircraft - which flew 28 short-duration test flights at low altitudes over the runway - the new design will feature 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 (75kW) Rotax 912S engine will power the rear wheels rather than the front wheels on the proof-of-concept vehicle. Wings continue to fold in toward the cabin accordion-style.

Two prototypes are under construction in the facility, says Terrafugia, one of which will undergo drive testing, while the other will be used for LSA flight-testing to earn ASTM validation.

"Experience from the construction of these prototypes will also be used to finalise the initial price point of the vehicle, which is expected to be between $200,000 and $250,000," says the company.

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