A company called Terrafugia is currently developing a plane that transitions into a car. For a mere $148,000 you too can own a Transition. When completed in late 2009, it will have an average cruising speed of 115 mph, gets over 25 mpg in the air. It’s classified as a Light Sport Utility vehicle and weighs only 1320 lbs. It will be powered by a 100 hp, 4-stroke Rotax 912 ULS. This engine is FAA certified to run on both 91+ octane autogas as well as 100LL. The same engine is used to power the rear push-prop and front wheels, using a clutch-based transmission for power selection. The Rotax engine is certified to allow a 5% ethanol mixture.
Cargo and dimensions
The vehicle will have 550 lbs of usable cargo weight in a 20 cubic foot space, which can be divided up among people, bags or fuel. It has a 20 gallon fuel tank which consumes about 120 lbs of fuel. Its maximum range is 460 miles (400 nm) when operating at 75% power, which is required to sustain 115mph cruising speed. When in folded position, the vehicle measures just 6.75 feet high, by 7.5 feet wide, by 18.75 feet long. No data on the wingspan was given, however it could not exceed approximately 35 feet due to the stated dimensions and mechanical operation of the wing through a single central hinge. The internal cabin space is 50 inches wide.
Transition’s wing loading is approximately 8.8 lbs per square foot, which is comparable to light sport or general purpose aviation aircraft. They currently have a working prototype wing design, however it is machine mounted and is not part of the actual aircraft. All of the pictures and images seen are either from a 1/5th scale prototype that was built and flown, or from computer generated animation.
The vehicle goes from 1-2-3, or from 3-2-1 via the push of a button. It must be stopped, engine off, to make the transition. The vertical stabilizers double as rear taillights and indicators. A pilot’s license is required to operate the vehicle, which will have a price tag of approximately $148,000. It will be available in late 2009, with a full-size prototype completed in late 2008. A 1/5th prototype has already been created and flown.
In order to operate the vehicle, the pilot (not the driver) will have to be FAA certified and hold a pilot’s license. Currently only a visual flight rating (VFR) ability is planned, as the on-board instruments will not be sufficient for a full Instrument Rating.