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Terrafugia planning hybrid flying car

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IOL mot pic may8 Terrafugia TF-X 1

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A computer rendering of a TF-X in flight.

Terrafugia, the company that developed the Transition street-legal aeroplane, is now looking further into the future with feasibility studies for a four-seater vertical take-off and landing, plug-in petrol-electric hybrid flying car, the TF-X.

It will have a 224kW petrol engine and two 447kW electric motors in pods for vertical take-off and landing, which should give it a top speed of close to 320km/h in level flight and a flight endurance of two and a half hours - about 800km.

It will have 'intelligent' fly-by-wire controls and Terrafugia has tried to make its operation as car-like as possible so that a competent driver can learn to fly one in about five hours.

PRACTICAL FLYING CARS

As the Transition programme shifts from research and development to production and customer care, the MIT-trained engineering team are looking to build on what they've learned (and, more importantly, what they've taught the Federal Aviation Administration) about practical flying cars.

In preliminary conversations with the FAA, the authorities have been willing to consider new technologies and changing the rules when it will improve the safety of private flying.

IOL mot pic may8 Terrafugia TF-X 3

This is how the vertical take-off and landing will work.

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The Transition had to overcome all sorts of technical, bureaucratic and infrastructure challenges, and Terrafugia is using that as Proof of Process for the start of TF-X development, although the company says an airworthy prototype is at least eight years away.

Watch the Transition in flight and on the road.

Click here for the Terrafugia website


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