Posted on May 6, 2013 · Posted in Aviation News

Terrafugia Inc., the developer of the Transition® street-legal airplane, announced its vision for the future of personal transportation. Building on its experience with the Transition® program, Terrafugia has begun feasibility studies of a four-seat, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) plug-in hybrid-electric flying car, the TF-X™. Incorporating the state-of-the-art in intelligent systems, fly by wire controls, and currently available technology, the TF-X™ will further increase the level of safety, simplicity, and convenience of personal aviation.

“This is the right time for us to begin thinking about the future of the company beyond Transition® development,” says Terrafugia CEO/CTO Carl Dietrich, “We are passionate about continuing to lead the creation of a flying car industry and are dedicating resources to lay the foundations for our vision of personal transportation.”

Terrafugia’s design team is excited to be looking ahead to TF-X™ development activities as the Transition® program shifts from research and development to certification, production, and customer support activities. The Transition® serves as a Proof of Process for TF-X™ development and commercialization through the many technical, regulatory, and usage challenges it has overcome.

By directly addressing congestion and other transportation challenges currently being faced internationally, widespread adoption of vehicles like the Transition® and TF-X™ could result in significant economic benefits and personal time savings. Preliminary conversations with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about the TF-X™ concept have demonstrated their willingness to consider innovative technologies and regulatory solutions that are in the public interest and enhance the level of safety of personal aviation. Terrafugia is excited to be nearing production of the Transition® and continuing to push the envelope of personal transportation.

Dietrich adds, “Terrafugia is about increasing the level of safety, simplicity, and convenience of aviation. TF-X™ is an opportunity to provide the world with a new dimension of personal freedom!”

Terrafugia (terra-FOO-gee-ah), based in Woburn, MA, is a growing aerospace company founded by pilot-engineers from MIT and supported by a world-class network of advisors and investors. The company name is Latin for “escape the earth.” Terrafugia’s mission is to build practical flying cars.

TF-X Project Goals

Safety

  • Operating a TF-X™ vehicle should be statistically safer than driving a modern automobile.
  • TF-X™ vehicles will be capable of automatically avoiding other air traffic, bad weather, and restricted and tower-controlled airspace.
  • TF-X™ will have a backup full-vehicle parachute system which can be activated by the operator in an emergency if the operator believes the TF-X™ to be incapable of auto-landing.
  • If a TF-X™ operator declares an emergency (which will automatically notify authorities of the situation), the TF-X™ can be landed in non-approved landing zones.
  • If the operator becomes unresponsive, TF-X™ would automatically implement an emergency auto-land at the nearest airport.

Simplicity

  • Learning how to safely operate a TF-X™ vehicle should take an average driver no more than five hours.
  • TF-X™ will give the operator significant freedom in flight – controlled in a manner similar to steering a car.
  • TF-X™ will be able to fly in either “manual” or “automatic” modes between approved landing zones or airports.

 Convenience

  • TF-X™ will carry four people in car-like comfort.
  • TF-X™ will have a non-stop flight range of at least 500 miles.
  • TF-X™ will fit into a standard construction single car garage.
  • TF-X™ will be able to takeoff vertically from a level clearing of at least 100ft in diameter.
  • TF-X™ will be able to drive on roads and highways – providing true door-to-door convenience and an automotive level of weather insensitivity.

Vision of TF-X™ Technical Operations:

  • TF-X™ is a fixed wing street-legal aircraft with electric ground drive and electric power assist on takeoff and landing.
  • TF-X™ will be able to recharge its batteries either from its engine or by plugging in to electric car charging stations.
  • TF-X™ will be capable of “auto-landing” at approved landing sites within approved weather limits.
  • Prior to departure, the operator selects a primary target landing zone and backup landing zones.  If the TF-X™ calculates insufficient energy on board to conduct last minute aborts at the first two sites and safely navigate to and land at the third within a 30 minute reserve, or if the forecast weather in any of the three landing zones would be outside the allowable limits, or if any of the selected landing zones are in temporarily restricted airspace (TFRs), departure will not be allowed until appropriate landing zones are selected.
  • If manual operation (sightseeing) or changing weather causes the second backup landing zone to fall outside the range of the limits, the operator will be notified and prompted to select new landing zones within the new restrictions.
  • The TF-X™ operator will have final say over whether an approved landing zone is actually a safe place in which to land, and they may abort the landing attempt at any time.
  • Aborting the third landing at the end of an extended flight would result in the automatic declaration of an emergency and a horizontal (airplane-like) landing at the nearest airport.
  • Normal TF-X™ operations will be conducted only in non-tower controlled airspace (Class E and G) and on the ground.  Operators who wish to operate in tower controlled airspace (Class B, C, or D) can get additional training.
  • Licensed TF-X™ operators will be allowed to apply to add new landing zones to an approved landing zone database.
  • TF-X™ will advise the operator if they are approaching restricted or tower-controlled airspace, or unnecessarily increasing the risk to human life (as could happen through carelessness, bad intentions, or if the operator becomes incapacitated).  If the operator does not take the appropriate corrective action, the TF-X™ vehicle will automatically notify authorities by “declaring an emergency” on behalf of the operator.

Development of TF-X™ is expected to last 8-12 years.

For more information…

Visit the TF-X web site: http://www.terrafugia.com/tfx-vision

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