back to article VTOL hybrid flying car promises the skies

The flying-car designers at Terrafugia may be behind schedule getting their first commercial model off the ground, but they're already talking up their next big idea: a four-person hybrid car with tilting engines that allow for vertical takeoff and landing, which could be in production by 2025. Terrafuiga TF-X VTOL flying car …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Silver badge
Meh

No Good Can Come From This

Even supposing the users manage to learn to fly safely (doubtful if bush pilots in Alaska are any indication) who is going to maintain them? Most people can't even jump start their own car anymore, much less properly torque a fastener or maintain crucial fluid levels, etc... See title.

3
3

Re: No Good Can Come From This

I thought so too, but really, most people won't be getting one of these. Consider that the previous kit is in the order of $279K, much higher than the price of a standard light sport aircraft ($20K-$140K). So this is not that every muppet can go out and get a flying car, it's more of some rich people are going to get these as airplanes that they don't have to store at the airport anymore. Whether or not they should be flying is moot, as they already are in the air though other, cheaper craft.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: No Good Can Come From This

Blain, I think you've hit that nail square on the head. This is something that the likes of Dean Kamen will have. If you have a quick look at his NH house you'll notice the south facing helicopter garage which likely counts as a home run in deep center field on the baseball diamond.

0
0
Silver badge
Meh

Re: No Good Can Come From This

You might be able to afford one, but then you need to keep it maintained, this in turn will generate a mass of paperwork that no normal householder will want to deal with.

A minimum 53 hours of flying tuition, a number of exams to pass, including a radio licence, meteorology etc, then further training and exams for an IMC or IR to fly in cloud and regular checks. Renewal of licence every two years, medicals, and more frequent medicals as you get older.... Checks that make the annual MOT for your car look petty...

Heard it all before, it becomes a rich mans toy, a few are made and then the manufacturer goes bust.

1
0
Headmaster

@LarsG

A more complete reading of the article reveals "Under a deal with the authorities, Transition drivers will only need a sports license to fly, which only requires 20 hours of flight time and less exacting aeronautical knowledge. "

Still, have to agree that is will be nothing more than a rich man's toy at this point - but then much advancing, bleeding edge technology starts this way...

1
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: No Good Can Come From This

@Don Jefe - re maintenance - most people already don't perform any maintenance whatsoever on their vehicles, they take them in for regular service. Don't see why it can't be the same with this, just maybe with closer servicing intervals for increased safety.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: No Good Can Come From This

If your Ford Cortina conks out on the motorway it's considerably easier to pull onto the hard shoulder than if the rotors on this suddenly decide to stop at 2000ft

0
0
Meh

I don't see the point

It still is a powered AC and has to land on an airfield, you can't just put it down on your lawn. I'm not so sure about the sports license either. Tilt rotor AC require a powered lift cert in the US and both, PPL and HPL, anywhere else. Add the cost for the license to the price of the "thing" and we're looking at +300K. A brand new, Garmin equipped, C-172 is 20K less, same is true for an R22 helicopter. The saved money could be spent on a real car, so you don't have to walk home. Imho, the whole "Flying Car" idea is Bollocks.

1
0

Re: I don't see the point

I believe that to the target market, the ability to mutter the phrase "why don't you come back to my place and I'll show you my flying car" is of greater value than the carplane itself, and well worth the ridiculous cost/contrived design.

Personally I don't see the appeal of a car that makes going around corners unneccesary.

2
0
SW

Re: I don't see the point

The 'point' is in making a product that has an envisaged market.

There are always people out there who want (must have) the latest gizmo irrespective of the cost - what's so wrong with providing them with the objects of their desire?

If I had the money, space, acquired skilset then I'd be interested.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: I don't see the point

Sports license applies to the model currently in development, the new 20-year+ VTOL will likely need a different license. Maybe not anyone can land them on tehir lawn, but it would probably be licensed to land anywhere that a helicopter currently can. And I'm sure the rich folks who can affod it will probably be able to sneak in some space for a helipad on their ranch

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Sliced Bread

I'd say it's the best things since sliced bread. Surly mechanics can deal with something new!

2
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Who'd have thought the robin reliant...

...was so far ahead of it's time? If only my late grandad had known one day he could just attach wings to the damned thing and fly home from the ahem pub.

5
0
Angel

Re: Who'd have thought the robin reliant...

Firstly it was the Reliant Robin not the other way round. Secondly far from flying it was known for falling over going round corners as famously demonstrated by Blowhard Clarkson on Top Gear. No need for one of them to get airborne to crash and burn. In fact after a burnout to one, i've know everthing apart from the chassis & running gear / drivetrain being shoveled into a couple of dustbins. No TUV in them days.

1
0
Boffin

Re: Who'd have thought the robin reliant...

If you're going to bring up Reliant Robins and Top Gear, they do indeed fly...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_b4WzWFKQ20

2
0

Re: Who'd have thought the robin reliant...

You mean the Reliant Robin!

Have you ever heard of an Escort Ford or a Shadow Rolls Royce?

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Who'd have thought the robin reliant...

... they do fly, but they also do not land (nicely).

0
0

Re: Who'd have thought the robin reliant...

That's Reliant Robin - you wouldn't say Escort Ford would you ?

0
0

Hybrid gyroplane?

I think that a gyrocopter or hybrid gyroplane would be far more effective and safe.

An autogyro that loses power can safely land.

0
0
Ru

Re: Hybrid gyroplane?

I trust you've heard of the PAL-V?

Bit more convenient to park than the Terrafugia, and I'll bet it has a shorter runway requirement, too.

0
0
FAIL

Aerodynamics

I'd hate to see what happens when they try more than 10 degrees of bank on this aircraft.

I suspect when they run this past their aeronautical engineers the wings will be forced into a dihedral shape, the surface area will have to be increased, a larger vertical stabilizer with a boom or extended body for the elevators and hey presto it becomes a ...oh!

4
0
Bronze badge
Meh

Re: Aerodynamics

definite stability issues with that much anhedral. Kudos to writer about probable lack of driver/pilot competence, Bad enough seeing poor airmanship from trained pilots, let alone Joe Clot, fresh from snorting white powders and a recent ego stroke. One thinks that in this vehicle, computers over-riding wetware pilots is a good thing.

0
0
Bronze badge
Coat

Re: Aerodynamics

obviously, this will be fly-by-wire, so inherent instability won't make it difficult to fly.

0
1
Silver badge

Re: Aerodynamics

Indeed.... I can't look at that image without thinking where all the lift is coming from... Especially as it's designed to seat 4 Americans... That's gotta average about half a ton of passengers these days.

1
0
Silver badge
Meh

Re: Aerodynamics

"Especially as it's designed to seat 4 Americans"

Yes but even the auto manufacturers aren't exactly honest about vehicle capacities, especially when it comes to SUVs and "Crossovers". They know it's for soccer moms who don't want to drive a minivan so when they say "seats 7" know that means 1 adult and 6 children since the cargo capacity is often around 1,000 lbs so they can keep the soft ride. Granted, it is getting better but most (all?) auto manufacturers still advertise on cargo volume and seats while never mentioning useful load so why should these guys be any different?

1
0
Gold badge
Happy

On the upside...

There are no roundabouts* in the sky.

which is important given how much trouble Americans abroad* have with them

*According to the DoT are the biggest killers of Americans abroad, not becoming involved in a terrorist incident.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: On the upside...

American driver training is woeful and they have a high death rate on their own roads, never mind on foreign roundabouts.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: On the upside...

Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads.

3
0
Meh

1 MW Electric - What about the Batterys

Whilst having the tilt rotors electric makes them mechanically simpler won't that mean that the thing has to lift a load of battery weight? would not IC based one be better sharing the same fuel tank as the main rear drive.

Also have they cured the battery aging? hate to see the results after 3 years when those VTOL engines run out of juice a lot quicker.

Still good luck to them!

1
0
Silver badge
Flame

Re: 1 MW Electric - What about the Batterys

Batteries will be no problem. I hear they secured a job lot cheap from a bloke in Seattle. Latest lithium ion, designed for aircraft, he said.

7
0
Silver badge

Re: 1 MW Electric - What about the Batterys

"would not IC based one be better sharing the same fuel tank as the main rear drive."

Yup, but the autogyro has already been invented, so they couldn't get a patent on that.

1
0
Boffin

Re: 1 MW Electric - What about the Batterys

You'll probably need to run the main engine for a few minutes to charge the lift-off/landing batteries before you go. Two electric motors and some batteries are likely to be lighter to carry round when they're not needed than two IC engines capable of lifting the thing. It's like Formula 1 KERS for aircraft.

0
0

Flying Catfish

Am I the only one who sees a catfish when looking at this thing's main body (fuselage?).

0
0

Maintenance costs slain by electric motors?

The reason we don't all have a personal helicopter in our back yard are:

1 ~ They are difficult to fly. But this may be taken care of by advanced autopilots.

2 ~ VTOL needs a much more powerful engine than taking off an landing from a runway. Hence almost all helicopters use turbines, which are very costly due to the maintenance required. Also the mechanical transmissions used to transfer all that power from the turbine(s) to the rotors are very maintenance heavy. Terrafugia is proposing that they can get around these problems using electric motors... but if it was that easy then surely the military would already have gone down this route?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Maintenance costs slain by electric motors?

Combustion/electric drives are mainly used on systems where weight is no problem, such as railway locomotives, and to a lesser degree starting now on shipping. Not only are they heavier, but if power is critical you need to make up for the conversion losses between alternator input and motor output.

On a flying vehicle this seems to combine weight, complexity and inefficiency in all the wrong combination, but the makers hand may be forced by an inability to make the design work with a mechanical drive.

1
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Maintenance costs slain by electric motors?

Diesel-Electric drive on ships has been in common use for a long time - at least 20 years.

Pretty much every new-build cruise ship is that way - the exceptions are the gas turbine vessels, which have - you guessed it - gas turbines to generate instead of fuel-oil diesels.

Also, the manoeuvring thrusters have been electric for much, much longer.

0
0

Re: Ceramics engines

I know they're working on new ceramic engines, and I remember when people thought they'd never make unbreakable glass! Ah but guess where the pope stands behind. I would guess ceramics engines may be somewhat of an answer to lightweight future flight. Only thing is the engines need the strength to endure collision. Another question is will they all have black boxes?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Ceramics engines

It is both amazing and ironic how much science can advance with Vatican money...

0
0
Bronze badge

I would think leaving out the props for autorotation (if big enough?) would be best safety practice. but then again, perhaps a craft this small could carry an airplane parachute? They are going to be needed, or at least some safety measure is needed. Helis usually have autorotation of some sort, planes have wings. We don't get many, even trained, pilots flying totally unrecoverable aircraft, do we? So it's something that needs to be in the design from the get go.

0
1

Parachute - from the article...

"but the TF-X has a built-in parachute in case things go wrong."

1
0
Unhappy

Re: Parachute - from the article...

A non steerable chute which will at best give you a hard but hopefully survivable landing on empty level ground, but may also crash you in to the side of tall buildings, mountains, trees or lakes depending on which way the wind is blowing.

0
0

Re: Parachute - from the article...

In some cases that non steerable chute will STILL be preferable to a human pilot, which may also crash you in to the side of tall buildings, mountains, trees or lakes depending on which way the wind is blowing, except with propellers still spinning at cruising speed.

0
1
M7S
Bronze badge
Happy

The future (according to the sainted Gerry A.) is coming true

Flying cars, glasses that give us enhanced capabilities (well almost).

Soon my son can be Joe 90, yay!

The one with the leather elbow patches please.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Like Moller and all the other flying cars companies, this one exists purely to extract money from gullible venture capitalists. It is highly unlikely there will ever be a viable product. They will just keep on saying "it's nearly ready", "any day now", until the money dries up.

1
0

1 MW. That is a lot of juice.

0
0

1341 hp, according to Wolfram Alpha. Those propellers seem kinda small for such power, I wonder what RPM do they have to do to generate enough lift to take off.

1
0
Gold badge
Happy

Surely for the take-off you just plug it in. Magnetic connection from the cable to the car/plane means that as soon as you take off, the connection is broken, and off you fly. Landings are much easier than take-offs, as it's going up that takes effort - down happens automatically...

Hmmm. Perhaps there's a reason I'm not an aeronautical engineer.

1
0
Gold badge
Happy

"Those propellers seem kinda small for such power, I wonder what RPM do they have to do to generate enough lift to take off."

Not a problem provided the tips stay below (preferably far below) the speed of sound.

Otherwise things get loud.

Very loud. Look up "Thunderscreech" for an idea.

0
0
Bronze badge

I can top that

From the article: "[VTOL] which *could* be in production by 2025."

Yeah, well then. My drug induced hallucination erm.. consumer grade VTOL *could* be in production by 2024. Get the headlines ready.

2
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums