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Terrafugia Envisions Plans for Vertical-Takeoff Flying Car

Posted May 09, 2013 1:25 PM

From Autoblog:

It's hard to forget a company like Terrafugia - mostly because it won't let us. Every six months or so, the Massachusetts-based self-proclaimed aerospace company makes headlines with a flying car concept. It's first attempt, called the Transition, was a folding low-wing propeller-driven pusher aircraft with a water-cooled combustion engine. Despite its ungainliness, it has flown, but only in prototype form, and despite its long gestation period and a reported 100 reservations on the books, certification and production is moving at a snail's pace. Yet push those negative thoughts aside and make room in your fantasy warehouse for Terrafugia's followup act, a vertical-takeoff (VTOL) plug-in hybrid-electric flying car. Promised to be much more advanced than its predecessor, the all-new TF-X would be fitted with modern state-of-the-art intelligent systems and fly-by-wire controls, says the company. Its design, with vertical take-off transitioning into horizontal flight, would provide safe, simple and convenient autonomous flight that would help alleviate today's congestion and other transportation challenges. Rather than dwell on the implications of electric range-anxiety while cruising at 20,000 feet with your family on board, or how you will prevent your inattentive friends from walking into its low-slung whirling rotors, open your mind and watch the company's computer-generated video down below showing how a typical flight would theoretically unfold.

Read the whole article and watch the video

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#1

Re: Terrafugia Envisions Plans for Vertical-Takeoff Flying Car

05/09/2013 4:24 PM

...somehow the Boeing 757 battery problems keep coming to mind, making it seem less "wonderful" than their marketing has you believe.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Terrafugia Envisions Plans for Vertical-Takeoff Flying Car

05/09/2013 5:32 PM

757 battery problems??

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#3
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Re: Terrafugia Envisions Plans for Vertical-Takeoff Flying Car

05/09/2013 6:08 PM

Again, the real problem is that people can't drive in 2D space. What hope does anyone really have that people can fly in 3D space?

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#7
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Re: Terrafugia Envisions Plans for Vertical-Takeoff Flying Car

05/10/2013 10:18 AM

The video implies that people won't be doing the flying; they're actually just passengers. The aircraft does all the flying. The 'driver' can select the destination and over-ride the choice of landing spot.

Frankly, looking at the video, I have trouble believing that thing could fly. Unless there are some major breakthroughs in materials engineering, I can't believe they could fit the mechanicals, electricals, safety systems and fuel into a craft that small that can carry 2 passengers, with that small amount of wing surface.

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#8
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Re: Terrafugia Envisions Plans for Vertical-Takeoff Flying Car

05/10/2013 10:37 AM

I agree with you. It doesn't look possible to generate enough lift with the diminutive wings, especially at a max speed of 200 mph.

... another reason not to be worried about the consequences of these taking to the air....

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#11
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Re: Terrafugia Envisions Plans for Vertical-Takeoff Flying Car

05/10/2013 11:18 AM

Yeah, it will need to be very people-proof or the lawsuits will be more prevalent than bees after a beehive has been hit with a baseball bat.

Consider obstacles like trees, towers, utility wires, signs, other aircraft, etc.

Other aircraft will require TCAS in every aircraft vehicle, which mandates existing small aircraft, gliders, hang gliders, balloons, and all autonomous/remote piloted aircraft of all sizes to incorporate TCAS.

Then there is the weather. Small aircraft do not handle winds and wind shear like commercial aircraft. Weather conditions change drastically throughout the day/night and sometimes with little or no warning.

Addittionally, the FAA will need to be brought on-board for vehicle inspections. This is a costly maintenance program and engines need to be periodically serviced and overhauled to insure safety compliance. Have you seen the cost of rebuilding a small 4-cylinder aircraft engine lately?

A typical Cessna Lycoming engine has a TBO (time between overhaul) of 2,000 hours. Cost is between $16,000 and $30,000. I am sure electric engines will be cheaper, but how much when you consider the whole system?

People bitch when they get a $300 car repair bill now.

Smoking hope.

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#4

Re: Terrafugia Envisions Plans for Vertical-Takeoff Flying Car

05/09/2013 6:59 PM

This data from 5 yrs ago, to lazy to get current figures...

"According to Table 5 of this document, there were 846,880 flights in May 2005.

"May Airline Traffic: Five-Month Domestic Traffic Up 5.8 Percent From 2004"
Bureau of Transportation Statistics
http://www.bts.gov/press_releases/2005/b…

Dividing that number by 31 days results in an average of 27,319 flights per day.

Here is another source that I found - about 30,000.

http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/bythenu…

"On any given day, more than 87,000 flights are in the skies in the United States. Only 35 percent, or just over 30,000 of those flights are commercial carriers, like American, United or Southwest. On an average day, air traffic controllers handle 28,537 commercial flights (major and regional airlines), 27,178 general aviation flights (private planes), 24,548 air taxi flights (planes for hire), 5,260 military flights and 2,148 air cargo flights (Federal Express, UPS, etc.). At any given moment, roughly 5,000 planes are in the skies above the United States. In one year, controllers handle an average of 64 million takeoffs and landings.

For every one flight you see listed on an airport monitor, two you don't see show up on air traffic controllers' screens. It would take approximately 7,300 airport terminal monitors to show all the flights controllers handle in a single day and approximately 460 monitors to show the number of flights being handled at any one time."

As far as accidents, take a look at this site, it has a lot of good data on aviation accidents - http://www.planecrashinfo.com/rates.htm

At the end of the day, traveling by the plane is pretty safe. An excerpt fromhttp://www.planecrashinfo.com/rates.htm

- "If a passenger boarded a flight at random, once a day, everyday, it would be approximately 22,000 years before he or she would be killed.""

Source(s):

http://flightaware.com/analysis/graphs/t…
http://www.bts.gov/press_releases/2005/b…
http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/bythenu…
http://www.planecrashinfo.com/rates.htm

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070531155257AAwncmt

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#5
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Re: Terrafugia Envisions Plans for Vertical-Takeoff Flying Car

05/09/2013 8:13 PM

That is for commercial airlines. Private aircraft is a significantly different story.

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#6
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Re: Terrafugia Envisions Plans for Vertical-Takeoff Flying Car

05/10/2013 12:41 AM

...and the record for private aircraft would almost certainly be severely degraded if masses of commuters who viewed their planes as automobiles were to join the ranks of private pilots.

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#9
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Re: Terrafugia Envisions Plans for Vertical-Takeoff Flying Car

05/10/2013 11:00 AM

While I agree with your point, I don't think you need to worry in this particular case: "watch the company's computer-generated video ".

That thing isn't an aircraft, it's a 55 gallon drum with vestigial wings. "Fly by wire" in this case, would mean the wires attaching it to a real flying craft.

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#10

Re: Terrafugia Envisions Plans for Vertical-Takeoff Flying Car

05/10/2013 11:10 AM

Describe what a "fender bender" would look like at 200mph and 20,000 feet.

With millions of incompetent drivers in cars do we really want them to have planes?

Souinds like an ambulance chasers wet dream and I haven't even mentioned Impaired flying. (not the kind I did in the 70's either)

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#12

Re: Terrafugia Envisions Plans for Vertical-Takeoff Flying Car

05/10/2013 11:24 AM

Well instead of this press releases of concepts every six months, wait until you actually have something.

In the mean time, I'm still waiting for Moller and his flying car.

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#13

Re: Terrafugia Envisions Plans for Vertical-Takeoff Flying Car

05/10/2013 6:55 PM

Might get really EXCITING rather suddenly when the software "autopilot" suddenly becomes a "blue screen" of death because of some typical 'hiccup' in its MS-based operating system (wink,wink)!

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