Flying car goes commercial
07 November 2011, 14:22
US company Terrafugia says it is developing a flying car and
is eyeing the booming economies of India, Brazil and China as future markets.
About 100 people have already order a "combined
flying-driving vehicle", the Transition, which has been priced at the
equivalent of R2.2-million and is scheduled for launch late in 2012.
The two-seat vehicle is designed to fly between local
airports, drive off the runway and join everyday traffice. The company hopes it
will be the world's first commercially viable flying car.
It has a rear propeller for flying and is powered for both
flight and road travel by unleaded petrol from regular service stations; it's
also said to be small enough to fit into a household garage.
It converts from a car into a light sports aircraft in about
30 seconds - not much slower than erecting a convertible's power roof.
MILESTONE FOR AVIATION
Carl Dietrich, chief executive and co-founder of Terrafugia,
said: "We will launch it initially in the US and eventually expand into
Europe but for the second phase we are looking at China, Brazil and India,
growing markets for this kind of product."
Terrafugia said in June 2011 that it had received special
clearance from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the
vehicle to ply the US road network.
The Transition is the first combined fly/drive vehicle to
receive such an exemption from US authorities. It means delivery to customers
can go ahead.
Terrafugia, Latin for "escape from land", said in
March 2009 that the Transition had successfully completed its first flight,
hailing it as "a milestone for aviation".
Dietrich told The Wall Street Journal earlier this year that
the company's initial customers would be pilots moving around smaller airports
across the United States.