It’s a decent airplane and as a car it can get you from A to B. The biggest challenge is finding the niche that can be served by the Transition which is neither a great airplane nor a great car. Terrafugia’s Dietrich says that marketplace might be people who fall in between the long driving commute or short airplane flight.
“If you’re flying 1,000 nautical miles, you’re probably going to want a higher performance aircraft” he says. “But if you’re flying 100, 200 or 300 miles, this might be ideal.”
With a cruise speed of 105 miles per hour, the Transition is faster than a car, especially considering it can often travel in a straight lines rarely available on the road. But it’s slower than many other Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), many of which fly at speeds closer to 135 mph. And comparing it to other new LSAs, the Transition is at least $100,000 more than most models.
But what Terrafugia believes is the value in the Transition is the convenience of always having the option of driving if the weather or some other issue prevents a safe flight. It’s true that one of the biggest challenges general aviation pilots face is being grounded because of bad weather. Many small aircraft can fly in inclement weather, but it requires more training and often more equipment to do so safely. So Terrafugia is touting the fact that its relatively simple light sport aircraft won’t force you to wait, or have to rent a car, just to finish a trip. Just fold up the wings and continue your journey on the ground.
Of course then you’ll be driving a rather delicate $279,000 car down the road. Little has been said about the cost of somebody backing into your folded wing. Something as simple as a minor fender-bender may be a bit more expensive than simply replacing a bumper.
Despite any potential drawbacks, Terrafugia has found a customer base that believes the flying car makes sense. Dietrich says about two-thirds of their existing customers are looking at the Transition as a practical form of transportation to suit their specific needs. Examples include a surveyor who could travel quickly to jobs around the state and a real estate developer who likes the idea of being able to scout new sites from above and give aerial tours to customers. The other third simply see the Transition as a fun vehicle and like the idea of owning a flying car.
I always cringe when I hear the term "flying car."
That's because anything that can fly instantly becomes an aircraft. So, the more accurate term would be "driving airplane."
This factor pretty much eliminates all the flying cars that you see in movies like The Fifth Element, Back to the Future, and the Star Wars movies, where the sky is crowded with commuting drivers.
This means that once we develop any gravity technology, it will still be applied to aircraft, and automobiles will still be automobiles.
For scenes like those in TFE to be possible IRL, the cars would have to be computer controlled. There could be no human drivers (except for special circumstances).
But cars and aircraft are becoming more and more computer controlled every day (some already communicate among themselves), so no big stretch. The computer technology will have been in place for many years by the time the majority of our cars are traveling on 3D highways.
CRUD = Contamination Resulting in Undesirable Deposits.
CRAPP = Contamination Resulting in Additional Partial Pressure.
I I think we have a difference without a distinction.
Computer controlled aircraft using humans on the ground are already a reality. The next step in that area is artificial intelligence making the decisions.
If you recall in Star Wars and The Fifth Element a great deal of direct human piloting of the flying vehicle was involved, not to mention the somewhat absurd free falling capability of the average jedi knght.
My point is that the vehicles in question are not cars, they are aircraft. There never will be a "flying car," only aircraft that can travel on the ground.