back to article Terrafugia Transition flying car redesign - first analysis

The Terrafugia Transition - the nearest thing to a flying car expected on the civil market in the near future - has been redesigned following last year's flight tests of a proof-of-concept prototype. The new, redesigned Transition flying car. Credit: Terrafugia New and improved ... but it's lost 90lb of payload. The new …


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  1. Geoff Campbell

    Well, the 21st Century has finally arrived.

    Shame it's so ugly. Why did no-body warn us?


    1. Geoff Mackenzie

      Aww, I think it's quite cute

      And cuter without the canard.

  2. Rob

    Lets be honest...

    ... if we're talking flying cars, none of us will sit up and take notice unless it's anti-grav and does VTOL all with simplistic controls.

    In the meantime I will keep day-dreaming.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    single seater fine by me

    less 'nagivational' assistance from the spare seat

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    That underside photo...

    The previous landing was a bit rough for the pilot's landing? Or did the laxatives to keep the occupants within the payload just have an unexpected repeat effect?

  5. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

    one fatal flaw

    The weight restrictions are a real killer. Wifey and I aren't exactly jumbos, but neither do we have supermodel stick figures. Given the current Useful Load limit, that's probably not enough for the two of us and a weekend's luggage.

    For ME, at least, I'd rather a model with greater weight capacity, longer range, rudimentary auto-pilot, and sufficient intrumentation for an IFR-rated pilot - perhaps the TransitionII or something. THAT, I would buy.

    Hey Madame Moderatrix, how about a "meh..." icon. Something in-between a thumb up and thumb down

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: one fatal flaw

      I have no say as to new icons. You could just try saying 'meh'. That should work.

      1. It wasnt me
        Thumb Down


        .....if "meh" is all you have to say, you could try saying nothing at all?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Just say "meh"



        And there now seems to be an Australian flag displayed on The Register's masthead. Thanks for reminding me where I live. Meh

        1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

          Or not

          I DID obviously have more than just "meh" to say, hence the greater-than-one-word posting. I requested an icon to indicate the general NATURE of my post, not content.

          So THERE! Nyah!

          1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: Or not

            Well, you can't have one. So nyah to *you*, sir.

  6. Mike Richards

    Can it tow a caravan?

    Because that will cement its position as the most pointless method of transport ever invented.

    1. S 11

      Tow a flying trailer

      What if it could tow a trailer.?

      And what if that trailer was an auto-plane trailer?

      And what if the auto-plane trailer held eight auto-planes?

      Why you'd have yourself a flying parking lot you would.

      I for one welcome random pilots landing on my street while I teach my kids to look all three ways before crossing the, oh, nevermind.

  7. S Larti


    That is all.

  8. dogged


    I object to that.

    If I weighed under 200lb, my doctor would put me on an immediate high-protein diet.

    Height weighs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You would have to be freakishly tall for 14 stone to be considered underweight.

      1. Marcelo Rodrigues

        Not really

        He just need to have broad shoulders. You know, there are people with a "thin" skeleton - and other there are built with a much heavier (larger) one.

        Think about the geek stereotype versus the lumberjack stereotype.

      2. Veldan

        not a freak...

        I'm a 6'4" large build and i come in at 240 (due to a fair bit of gym causing muscle)

        Yet the average weight for someone such as myself WITHOUT the extra gym rat-ness is 195-208.

        So this clarne (car plane, get it) leaves a lot to be desired.

      3. Geoff Campbell

        And, hey, you know what?

        Some people *are* freakishly tall.

        However, at 6'4", I'm just tall rather than freakish (at least as far as height goes....) but at 14 stone I look like a cartoon stick figure. 15 stone is about the point where I start looking healthy.


      4. Peter Kay

        Your maths and reasoning is off

        550-50-120/2=190 - and note that fuel is 'more than 120lb' and luggage may be more than 50lb.

        I'm 5'10" - so an average height for a man. The BMI charts note that overweight for 5'10 starts at 12st 7lb. 190lb=13st 8lb. A margin of one stone over average is really not a lot.

        Not that it's particularly relevant, but in case you think this is from the viewpoint of a fatty, last time I looked I was 11 stone, a fair bit of it muscle.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    twin seat self launching glider towed behind a car and set-up in 20 minutes on site. Take a taxi into town at which ever airport you land at.

    range is better, load is better, comfort is better, speed is better, fuel economy is better , plane looks prettier, license easier to get, the flying is more fun.

    In road mode tow car + trailer probably goes faster.

    take a look at Shempp-Hirth, Arcus M.

    but yeah a road car is pretty neat, but only if I didn't have anything else to do with the money.

  10. Graham Bartlett

    Not really an issue

    Let's be honest, you don't buy this as practical transport - you'd buy it bcos it's fun. Like a Seven or something of that ilk.

    A friend built himself a Westfield a few years back. You either had the choice of a fuel-tank the size of a lemonade bottle and a "boot" the size of a washing-up bowl, or you could opt for a more normal fuel-tank and absolutely no storage at all. I've not noticed that this has damaged sales of Westfields.

    FWIW, I'm surprised that Terrafugia haven't gone for carbon fibre to save weight - or even for a GRP monocoque design which has a decent old vintage in the kit-car world (Quantum, for one). If you need a skinned fuselage anyway (and you do), then a monocoque design there would seem to have a lot of benefits. Granted you might not want it as a structural part of wings and all, but as a box to hold the passengers it'd be a not bad plan for very little weight gain.

  11. Scott Broukell

    I ......

    canardly believe it !

    1. Richard 22

      Leave your coat

      Just get out.

    2. Geoff Campbell

      Oh FFS!

      Must you?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The thing that has always worried me about the flying car concept is accident damage. No, not the sort of thing that calls on the crumple zones, but parking speed bumps. If you've ever taken your car to a body shop after a parking speed knock you may have been somewhat surprised by the quote for the repair. You may have even considered the body shop to be con merchants. They're not. On an insurance job they are required to bring the car back to "as new" spec or at least as close as they can get on a car of the age concerned. So a little bump might mean the car needs to be jigged back to shape to get the shut lines right and all sorts of brackets and hinges may need to be replaced. Then of course there's painting. All this can write off a five year old car even if it seems perfectly drivable. If you don't want it doing on the insurance you could get away with bashing a some panels out, pulling a few brackets straightish and you could maybe even get away without painting things if it's just scratched a bit.

    Now imagine what the same bump would do to an aircraft. Are these things going to need airworthiness checks everytime somebody knocks them in a car park? Worse still what happens if somebody nudges it and the diver doesn't even notice his control surfaces are out of line?

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      RE: Worry

      Well, the majority of the issues can be removed if you do not have fixed control surfaces to worry about. Whilst the TerribleFugUp design has proper wings and tails it will be prone to damage. I assume their answer is that it can then have a superior cruising speed and all-weather capability (yeah, like I want to take a flying car up in a thunderstorm!). However, other far simpler, already working and not-awful-to-drive-on-the-road designs like the parawing ParaJet Skycar don't have this issue, because when in land mode the wing is folded up and stowed out of harm's way. How you are supposed to fold up the TerribleFugUp's wings and still retain any visibility is beyond me! It looks like the SkyCar also has larger wheels, which means it will be a lot nicer to drive on our awful UK roads with their potholes and millions of speedbump. And if you're a Greenie the SkyCar use biofuel! What more do you need?

      So, in short, it's not just "meh", it's a total lack of interest, as SkyCar has this beat in just about every department, and is already on sale.

  13. Cornholio

    I wish they'd hurry up

    It's fifty years since Aerocar N102D was built. That is still airworthy, so why can't I pop down to the shops and buy a shiny new flying car for myself?

  14. Sureo

    New thinking needed

    In the spirit of those who hitch a small car to a large mobile home, what is needed is an aircraft design that can accommodate a Smart car in the structure. Once landed, the car can be detached for the perfect runabout.

    1. I didn't do IT.

      Re: New Thinking

      I think you will find its rather old thinking - "pod command modules" (ie - command "car") for different styles of vehicles were conceptualized back in the 40's in "popular" literature (as far as I can research). But that doesn't make it a worthless idea. :)

      While the wheels of the Smart would not be viable in their current configuration for landing, it is quite possible that some modification could be implemented to lower the back wheels for a lower angle of attack approach as well as beefing up the front for the inevitable bouncing. Perhaps some sort of rotating cam system to lower and retract as needed?

      As long as no effort is made to make the plane run off of the car's engine/fuel/battery and just use the control mechanisms, this could be a quite fun series of weekend projects for the next couple years.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not the same

      A "flying car" would mean you could fly from A to B drive on to C then take off and fly to D. Or whatever. On problem with your smart car idea would be that the pane bit would stay at B so you would need to drive back to B to get your wings. Not quite the flying car people have been after for well over half a century.

      Furthermore your concept would probably mean your aircraft would be much heavier than this one.

      OK so the concept as it stands has it's problems, but it's the first. Just like the first commercially available planes and cars were a long way from what we are used to today. You've got to start somewhere and this seems a pretty good start. I think it's a long way from being practical transport, but I don't suppose the early adopters will be looking for a replacement for their car and plane. This will be a third vehicle to do something that neither the car nor the plane can do.

  15. Across-the-pond Scum

    Fuel vs payload - is this a real issue?

    OK, we as drivers have a particular lazy reaction at the pumps for our cars and unless you're truly strapped for cash, we tank up to the top. Less trips to fill up mean more time for something else. However, airplanes are really a different beast for this. Be it the Terrafugia, another sport, or just your plain old Cessna Skylane, pilots have to worry about fuel loads, and frequently will balance out the amount of fuel for the length of the trip and amount of weight. I'm an avid sim pilot and have taken a lesson or two and I can tell you the worst thing you can do it top off the tank of an airplane. You plan the range out and make multiple hops depending on what you're carrying. My last flight in a Cessna, we used up 4 gallons in the hour flight and I put in 4 gallons back in after we landed. Payload capacity may be less overall versus another sport plane, but you're trading that capacity for convenience. Fatties can fly, just not as far. :P

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Flying car?

    So put 4 wheels on a plane and its a "flying car" ?

    I guess all the other planes are just "flying Reliant Robins"

    1. Blain Hamon
      Thumb Up

      Flying Reliant Robin? Seen it.

      At least, it was flying until the main fuel tank refused to release. Still, it was a great try by the Top Gear peeps.

      The difference, of course, is that the wheels are the form of propulsion when on the ground to be a car, flying or no.

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Still pretty impressive.

    As design moves to production.

    Remember there is *always* V 2.0.

  18. Mephistro Silver badge


    Sure, it seems as a good idea to me, having everybody able to obtain a driving license flying around in one of those toys full of wife, luggage and and golf clubs. What could possibly go wrong?

    And they don't need to build new infrastructure. The Terrafugia can land on any highway! MUHAHAHAHAAAA!!!

    I'm afraid the only transition I'll be making is from my smallish car to an armoured Hummer, or even a demilitarized APC, if I can ever lay my hands on one. The feeling of security is worth to me much more than a few gallons/mile. ;-)

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Is it just me or...

    that canard on the 1st iteration of the aircraft is a F1 racing car nose?

    Considering F1 cars have been using aeronautical engineers for years, I guess it's all the way around. Perhaps going back and forth a few more times, this plane would end up looking like one.

    If I could afford anything that looked like a F1 car, I would buy it.

    No, forget the coat, that's extra 10 pounds.

    1. Alex King
      Thumb Up


      An F1 car you say? We're always told that one of them generates enough downforce to drive on the ceiling at 100mph, so all we need is an F1 car with a prop and invertable wings - job's a good-un.

      Mark Webber could be the test pilot, if Red Bull will give him the wings...

  20. OrsonX

    Now more plane-ish than car-ish

    Owww, I liked the Mk1 version better, it looked more like a car that flew. It had funk angles. This new version, just, looks like a plane, boring!!!

  21. Oldfogey
    Thumb Up


    Can it tow a caravan?

    When FLYING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Now that WOULD be cool !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Magilla
    Thumb Up

    Sportcopter is moving in a different direction

    Sportcopter have designs on the Flying Car market, and appear to be testing prototypes based on gyroplanes. While gyroplanes need a runway (or a 25mph headwind) to take off, they can land virtually vertically.

    Here's a link to a slideshow of designs and photos:

  23. Adrian Esdaile
    Paris Hilton

    If you're wealthy enough to afford this

    Why not just have a car waiting for you at the other end?

    I could never work that one out. Neither could Paris.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Whatever the payload ends up being,...

    at least make it unsuitable for any w**ker over 6 foot, therefore denying Jeremy Clarkson the ability to fly/drive it.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    On the other end...

    I've seen a plane with hovercraft skirts. It could land anywhere, really. The landing is hair-raising, though. I guess it also had some sort of floats, for more stable water landing, memory fails.

    And an ATV with sealed body, or an easy and better description, a jet-ski with ATV wheels. It looks like a regular ATV, you just splash it on the water, retract the wheels, and off you go. Just remember to push the wheels out before coming back to land. The whole thing takes 30 seconds to switch modes.

    The whole fun of these vehicles lies in accessing as much of the planet as possible on the same vehicle, not the fact the we already have something more efficient for each situation.

    Plus, if the regular boffins come up with something really nice, it can be used on mars, some 50-150 years ahead (forget the water thing for Mars, naturally). Just like COBOL. There, your IT angle!

  26. the tester

    weight & balance

    Where's the jet pack I was promised in 1980?

    Seriously, have you looked at the weight and balance for a Cessna 150 or Piper Tomahawk? What is this article going on about? Fat driver + fuel + payload have never mixed in light aircraft!

  27. Mips
    Jobs Halo

    Have you noticed...

    .. the front wheels have morphed into conventional aircraft style and generally it looks more like a plane than a car. But, here is the big thing, it has four wheels. Do you really fancy your chances of landing that in a crosswind? Not for me sorry. Now if it was to loose a wheel at the next design iteration it would be OK. What's that? Just like any other light aircraft. Well, there you go then, what more could one need.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      RE: Have you noticed...

      Not all aircraft have always had tricycle undercarriage, it's just an arrangement that became the standard due to the most common aircraft shape, cruciform. There have been a number of four-wheeled undercarriage designs that have worked just fine, such as the F-82 Twin Mustang, so it's not that an unfeasible idea. Unfortunately, when it comes to cars, four-wheeled designs are much more successful as it is much more stable to have a wheel at each corner. Besides, if landing in a cross-wind was such an issue, you could always add a steering lock to keep the front wheels straight for landings.

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