As if putting their very first flying car through its paces was not enough, Terrafugia have recently revealed plans to build a hybrid flying car – the first of its kind in the world. The flying car would be semi-autonomous, small enough for regular-sized garages, have space for four people and a range of 500 miles.
The electric motors would provide the thrust for take-off and landing while a gas turbine would provide the extra power for long flights.
Terrafugia was established by graduates of MIT in 2006, with their most recent activity being the testing of the two-seater flying car Transition, which featured foldable wings. Xconomy estimates the flying car, which currently has more than a hundred pre-orders, would be priced around $279,000.
The TFX, however, features improvements over the original Transition in being more spacious, heavier and faster. The wing tips of the TF-X would also have rotor blades mounted to help in take-off. These would fold down while landing and in mid-flight.
For take-off, the TF-X requires open space spanning a minimum of 100 feet. This means that take-off cannot be achieved from just anywhere, but, according to Xconomy, landing would be an even more tasking affair as landing strips are required, meaning that space for that purpose has to be created in the various parks and cities.
That is not the only difficulty Terrafugia face if their “aircraft” is to become a reality. The Massachusetts-based company would need to find a way to ensure the car more than meets present safety requirements in the aviation industry.
This includes ensuring it does not interfere with normal air traffic, can fly in poor weather conditions, can perform emergency landings when the driver fails to respond, and can land in unauthorized zones in emergency situations while air traffic controllers are made instantly aware of the situation. The vehicle should also have a parachute system just in case all else fails.
Carl Dietrich, CEO and co-founder of Terrafugia, estimated that the whole project would take about eight to ten years, and that while safety features were being tweaked, the overall aircraft experience of the vehicle could also be enhanced. If all goes to plan, the automobile industry would never be the same again.