Flying cars could soon be a reality with Terrafugia Transition, the only American based flying car that is currently considered in commercial development stages estimated at $279,000.
Dr Paul Moller, of Davis, California, United States, was the first man to develop a flying car, building his first prototype in 1967 in his garage. After making upgrades, Moller flew another model more than 30’ off the ground in 1989 and made his latest known as the ” sky car”.
IQS Directory reports that Moller estimates the vehicle averages 300 mph at 25,000 feet and 200 mph at sea level. The car has a different design than any other flying car currently in development. The Sky Car which is fully automated, allowing the passengers to relax while travelling to their destination, takes off and lands vertically while other flying cars need a runway.
It sounds like science-fiction, but Moller has created the pieces to make it a reality. The engine weighs 65 lbs. and has 200 horsepower. With the engine, fuel, car body, and two passengers of average weight, the entire vehicle weighs 1,600 lbs. His first scheduled flight was in 2014.
According to IQS Directory, the Terrafugia Transition can take off or land at any public use general aviation airport with at least 2,500 feet of runway. Before flying, the pilot extends the wings and performs a standard preflight. The engine power is directed to the propeller for flight through a carbon fibre drive shaft. Upon landing, the pilot activates the electro-mechanical wing folding mechanism from inside the cockpit and is then able to drive away.
The specifications of the Terrafugia Transition are listed as follows:
- 4 cylinder, 4 stroke liquid/air cooled engine with opposed cylinders
- Dry sump forced lubrication with separate oil tank
- Automatic adjustment by hydraulic valve tappet
- 2 CD carburettors
- Mechanical fuel pump
- Electronic dual ignition
- Electric starter
- Integrated reduction gear i= 2.43.
A report by IQS Directory says at least nineteen (19) companies are currently developing flying car plans. Some are for actual vehicles, and others are for services with flying cars. Three examples include the following:
- AeroMobilA developer out of Slovakia, this company already has an actual flying car. AeroMobil 3.0, the flying car, is the core product of the company. It has been in development since 1989. In flight tests in 2014, it reached 124 mph and was determined to have the ability to fly for 430 miles on a full tank of gas. The vehicle can be parked in normal parking spots and fill up with fuel at normal gas stations. AeroMobil 3.0 gets 29 miles per gallon in on the road driving mode.
- Uber is working to create an aerial taxi service in Dallas, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and Dubai. Uber’s vision is an aircraft, which appears to be a plane-helicopter hybrid with fixed wings and tilt prop-rotors. The vehicles are designed to hopper passengers from rooftop sky ports to their destination at another rooftop sky port.
- Terrafugia Inc.
- Woburn, Massachusetts-based Terrafugia Inc. has a prototype flying car that has completed its first flight, which brings the company closer to its goal of selling the Terrafugia Transition within the next few years. The vehicle has two seats, four wheels, and wings that fold up so it can be driven like a car. In March of 2012, it flew at 1,400 feet for eight minutes. Commercial jets fly at 35,000 feet.
How much does it cost to purchase a flying car?
Unless you’re wealthy, you probably won’t be able to purchase a flying car anytime soon as the Terrafugia Transition will cost consumers an estimated $279,000,
The Terrafugia Transition, the only American based flying car that is currently considered in commercial development stages, will cost consumers an estimated $279,000, AeroMobil 3.0, built in Slovakia, is said to be ready to hit the market for $1.2 to $1.6 million while Dr Paul Moller’s sky car will list for $500,000.
Beyond the cash cost,IQS Directory report says each version of the flying car is also known as a Light Sports Aircraft. The standards for LSAs govern the size and speed of the plane and licensing requirements for pilots; however, those licensure restrictions are far narrower than requirements for pilots of large commercial planes. An owner would need to pass a test and complete 20 hours of flying time to be able to fly the Transition.
Are there obstacles that will delay flying cars?
Beyond the high costs of the vehicles themselves, and the necessity to be licensed, there are still other obstacles to bringing flying cars to the roads and skies.
IQS Directory reports that the first is an air-traffic control for low altitude, Light Sports Aircraft. NASA’s un-crewed traffic management (UTM) project was first introduced in 2015 to regulate drone traffic. NASA hopes to use it as the next-generation air traffic control system.
Other concerns, such as FAA regulations, have forced makers of flying cars to make upgrades and adjustments to their designs.
The report says the United States government has also become a part of the manufacturing process. The government granted Terrafugia’s request to use special tires and glass that are lighter than normal automotive ones, to make it easier for the vehicle to fly. The government temporarily exempted the Transition from the requirement to equip vehicles with electronic stability control, which would add about six pounds to the vehicle. The Transition is currently going through a battery of automotive crash tests to make sure it meets federal safety standards.
Once you get past rules and regulations of the various government agencies, there are still other things to consider. Inventor and engineer Elon Musk makes a very valid point that “there is a challenge with flying cars in that they’ll be quite noisy, the wind force generated will be very high, let’s just say that if something’s flying over your head, if there are a whole bunch of flying cars all over the place, that is not an anxiety-reducing situation. You don’t think to yourself, ‘well, I feel better about today.’ You’re thinking, ‘did they service their hubcap? Or is it going to come off and guillotine me as they’re flying past?”