Transition Street Legal Aircraft
Between traffic and navigability, experts say, approval in the latter is much harder to obtain. In other words, it`s easier to build a legal plane on the road than a legal airplane car. Pilots can operate the aircraft with a “sports license” that requires 20 hours of instruction. During the transition to driving mode, the transition wings are folded. Image courtesy of Terrafugia. When entering driving mode, the wings are folded by the electromechanical mechanism. The pilot can activate it from the cockpit. The wings fold at the root and median wingspan. Launching a new aircraft model in heavier classifications of “general aviation” will cost at least $50 million, said Carl Dietrich, co-founder, CEO and chief technology officer of Terrafugia. Standard equipment includes a Dynon Skyview avionics package, BRS airframe parachute, four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes, airbags, an automotive-compliant carbon fiber rigid cage and folding fenders to allow the Transition to be parked in a single garage. It also has a luxurious interior with leather seating. The dashboard has a change that goes from Park to Drive, and then to Fly for airplane mode.
The passenger car version is powered by a hybrid electric motor. That`s a remarkably relaxed attitude for an aircraft manufacturer. Colburn says Terrafugia`s parent company agrees with this strategy and that Geely has a very “hands-off” leadership style. He adds that neither is particularly concerned about competition from the emerging urban air mobility (UAM) market. It should be noted that Terrafugia has developed its own UAM design. The aircraft requires a 63.5m long runway for take-off and landing, meaning it can only be flown from airports and not directly from a road. After a few more rounds of audits and paperwork, the Transition, a two-seater flying dingamajig, can take to the skies under the command of sports pilots, a low-threshold classification. Terrafugia can also commercially produce the aircraft without repeated incriminating federal airworthiness testing. In December 2014, the company asked the FAA to operate the crossing with a gross weight of 1,800 lbs (816 kg) instead of the maximum weight of 1,320 lbs (599 kg) and a stall speed of 54 kn (100 km/h; 62 mph) instead of the category maximum of 45 kn (83 km/h; 52 mph).
The company indicated that the increases were necessary to allow for the inclusion of FMVSS-compliant structures for ground operations. The company had already secured a gross weight increase of 110 lbs (50 kg) and another LSA aircraft, the ICON A5, had been granted a 250 lb (113 kg) exemption to meet the FAA`s spin resistance requirements. This new application would increase the allowable weight of the transition by a total of 480 lbs (218 kg), or 36%.  During consultations, the request for a weight increase was supported by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association. Only a few people spoke against the motion.  The exemption was granted by the FAA on June 19, 2016.    “We think this is a breaking point. Let`s offer that as a product and see what the interest is,” says Colburn. We`re just starting to figure out whether or not there is a [aircraft] market. Otherwise, it`s not a problem. We just keep going. If there is a market, we will look at what the ramp-up of production looks like.
Transition is a two-seater aircraft, six meters long and two meters high. It is 2.3 m wide and has a wingspan of eight meters. Terrafugia vice president and general manager Kevin Colburn points out that the FAA was also active with the plane. “They [the FAA] came to our facility, reviewed our quality system, talked to our staff, and did two vehicle inspections.” The Light Sports Classification was created in 2004 to allow aircraft manufacturers to design passenger aircraft without the strict regulations required for larger flying machines. The vehicle moves on the rear wheels on the ground. The taxiworthy aircraft does not need a trailer or hangar as it can be parked in a garage or vehicle parking.