Flying car passes its test flight program

US company starts building beta prototype of its two-seater 'roadable' aircraft

A US company today announced that its flying car has has successfully completed its initial flight testing program.

Terrafugia Inc., founded four years ago by MIT graduates, reported today that a proof of concept version of its Transition "roadable" aircraft has completed the first of a four-stage process aimed at getting the flying car into production. With the flight testing of the proof of concept vehicle successfully wrapped up, the company has launched Stage 2, which is to build a beta prototype.

The Transition vehicle took its first flight on March 5, following six months of road testing. The vehicle has completed 27 other test flights since then, the company said.

"To actually have it fly is a dream come true," said Richard Gersh, a vice president at Terrafugia, in an earlier interview. "I'm not sure it's up there with the Wright brothers but it's awfully close."

The initial tests focused on driving, flying and the automated transformation between the two. Terrafugia noted that the tests have identified changes that need to be made, but did not specify what the problems are or what the changes will be.

The two-seater vehicle fits into the light sport aircraft category and is expected to be priced at about US$148,000. People will need a sport pilot certificate to fly the Transition, which is designed to take off and land at small, local airports and drive on any road. The vehicle, which runs on unleaded gasoline, can travel up to 450 miles and can fly at 115 mph. It's also designed to fit into a typical household garage.

Gersh has said he hopes the first flying car will be in a customer's hands by next year.

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