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FAA Approves Terrafugia's Flying Car for Test Flights

Thu, 12/17/2015 - 12:05pm
Greg Watry, Digital Reporter

Each day, humanity inches closer to the vision of the future presented by “The Jetsons.” Okay, maybe not exactly that cartoon future, but something resembling it. Smartwatches, robotic assistance, and 3-D printed food are just some of the real world advances the cartoon has analogues for.

Strides have also been made in the realm of flying cars.

In a recent development, the Federal Aviation Administration authorized Terrafugia to operate small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) of its TF-X flying car for research and development purposes.

“It’s a significant milestone in the development of the program and we’re really excited to be moving forward,” said Terrafugia spokesperson Dagny Dukach to R&D Magazine.  

The TF-X concept was first unveiled in 2013.

“The FAA exemption will allow Terrafugia to test the hovering capabilities of a one-tenth scale TF-X vehicle and gather flight characteristics data that will drive future design choices,” according to Terrafugia, whose name is derived from the Latin phrase “Escape the Earth.” “Because of the unconventional configuration of the TF-X, it is vital to achieve sustained stabilized hovering with smaller models before developing a full-size TF-X prototype.”

According to Dukach, the FAA-approved model is roughly 2 ft long and has a weight restriction of no more than 55 lbs.   

Under the FAA exemption, the company can test the prototype vehicle at altitudes up to 400 ft, and at speeds under 100 mph.

“We’re hoping to test (the prototype) within the next few months,” Dukach said, noting the company is currently in the building process.

Terrafugia envisions the four-seat, hybrid electric, and semi-autonomous flying car will enter production some eight to 12 years in the future. Pricing is estimated to be consistent with high-end luxury cars. The car will have a range of 500 mi, boast cruise speeds up to 200 mph, and utilize vertical take-off and landing.

Simplicity is the name of the game. According to the company, learning how to fly the vehicle will take significantly less time than learning how to fly a traditional aircraft, and controlling the vehicle will be akin to steering a car.

For more information, go to:  www.terrafugia.com/tf-x

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