Terrafugia, builders of the Transition flying car, has cut metal on the first hardware for its next project, the futuristic vertical takeoff and landing TF-X.
The roadable aircraft will feature battery-powered, swiveling pods with retractable rotor blades to transition from vertical to horizontal flight, and a 600 hp motor in the rear driving a ducted propeller.
The first proof-of-concept battery pod was unveiled here at EAA AirVenture.
“The Transition is evolutionary. The TF-X is revolutionary, a real disruptive technology,” said TerraFugia spokeswoman Vanessa Blakely. It will be hybrid-powered, with semi-autonomous capabilities. The pods will contain several linked distributed-power electric motors so that the failure of one will not cause a catastrophe.
But don’t expect it yet. “It’s at least a decade away,” she said.
Before then, Terrafugia must raise $30 million to bring the Transition to production. It shouldn’t be hard to attract the funding, she said, as the backlog for about 100 Transitions on order comes to that amount. “We’re just looking for the right investor, one with a long-term view.
The first certified Transition is on track for delivery in May 2016. The aircraft is currently undergoing flight tests with two people, both pilot and passenger, and final detailed design will begin soon. Changes from the proof-of-concept vehicle include such details as making it more insurable as a car. “For example, we’ve made the tail booms replaceable so you don’t have to write off a $279,000 aircraft if it has a fender-bender,” she said.
Terrafugia's Transition is undergoing two-people flight tests.