Coming Your Way: The Flying Car

Stuck in traffic jam? Well, now you can get airborne on your own in just 60 seconds. Yes, it is Terrafugia’s new invention, named Transition, which is both a car and an airplane too.

This two-seater vehicle completed its first flight last March and recently completed 27 additional flights, wrapping up the first of a four stage process to bring the Transition into production. Transition made its first public debut at the Air Venture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and is expected to be commercially available as early as 2011.
It will cruise smoothly on road and through the sky.

Transition, developed by former NASA engineers will have four wheels, Formula- 1 style suspension and a pair of 10-foot wide wings. It can transform itself from a two-seater road car to a plane in just 60 seconds by unfolding its wings. Also, because of its light carbon fibre body, its weight will stay under 850 pounds. It will get about 23 mpg from its 100 hp Rotax 912 S engine. Terrafugia claims that in the air, Transition will be able to cruise up to 725 km at more than 185 km per hour. Up till now, it has been tested on roads, only at up to 90 mph. It uses normal unleaded fuel. The developers of Transition say the vehicle is easy to keep and run and with its wings folded up, the vehicle fits inside a single car garage.

Carl Dietrich, who runs the Massachusetts based Terrafugia confirmed that they have already received sixty orders for their newly designed vehicle. The initial cost of Transition is expected to be around $ 200,000 (nearly Rs1crore ). And according to its developers, the vehicle targets pilots who currently face a number of obstacles that prevent them from flying on a more regular basis.

But unlike the fabled Moller Skycar, this one, however, won’t do vertical take offs and landings. So, one would need a really long driveway or access to runway of some sort. Also as far as weather sensitivity is concerned, the vehicle allows a pilot, if weather changes, to divert to the nearest airport, fold up tits wings and drive safely under the weather.

The other side of this new invention by former NASA engineers also needs to be flipped to. Where the vehicle gives you the access to transform the two-seater road car into an airplane, it also has some major problems associated with it. Flying through the air is far more complicated than driving down the road. With the Y-axis, wind turbulence, landing and take-off and a long list of other variables make the flight out of reach from a common man, who has no idea of all these things. Also, something that flies will never be able to withstand physical abuses that cars take. Another problem associated with this is of finding a suitable place to take-off because a really long runway is required for it, which one can hardly find in cities for one’s personal use. And if one goes to an airport for the same, it would also not solve the problem as besides being illogical, airports are already very busy now- a- days, and moreover, it would also require a special permission from the authority, which is next to impossible to get. The only place in USA in which it is legal to take-off from a road is Alaska. And even if you could take-off from any desired location, it would only result into an extremely complex network of air traffic. Also, getting insurance for such a vehicle is another tricky task.

Though it is a clever design and a superb engineering prowess, but what we need to focus upon here is the practical use of it. The idea of a flying car is very fascinating and thrilling. In reality, however, this has certain complications associated with it, which make it difficult to be a part of the practical life. Just like any other scientific invention by man, this one also has got its downsides, along with its hundred uses. Now what we need to see is whether man accepts this new technological quantum leap or not.

Sucheta Sharma

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