Greener Transport? World’s First Flying Car to Go On Sale Next Month

Terrafugia's flyable prototype Transition airplane, later assigned tail number N302TF, being shown during SciFoo 2008 at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California. Just behind the airplane are two of Terrafugia's founders: Samuel Schweighart (L, red shirt), VP of Engineering; and Carl Dietrich (R, beige shirt), CEO/CTO.
Terrafugia’s flyable prototype Transition airplane, later assigned tail number N302TF, being shown during SciFoo 2008 at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Just behind the airplane are two of Terrafugia’s founders: Samuel Schweighart (L, red shirt), VP of Engineering; and Carl Dietrich (R, beige shirt), CEO/CTO. By Matt Brown from London, England (A flying car) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The global automobile carbon footprint is about to get a significant boost, with the dawn of the age of flying cars.

World’s first flying car to go on sale next month and it could cost more than £300,000

Jasper Hamill
Thursday 27 Sep 2018 9:57 am

The world’s first flying car will be available to pre-order next month. A Chinese company called Terrafugia is preparing to unleash a vehicle called the Transition which can turn from an automobile into an aircraft in just a minute.

It travels at just 100 miles per hour, making it slower than the world’s most sluggish jet, the Soviet PZL M-15 Belphegor which was built to be used on massive state-owned farms. The most striking aspect of the Transition is its folding wings, which extend to allow flight and can be retracted when driving on roads.

It is fitted with a parachute system as well as a ‘boost’ mode to give a ‘brief burst of extra power while flying’. The Chinese news agency Xinhua said pre-sales will begin in October. Terrafugia previously said the Transition would cost $279,000, although a Terrafugia reportedly revised the cost upwards to somewhere between $300k and $400k. This means it could have a price of more than £300,000 in the UK.

‘The Transition is the world’s first practical flying car,’ Terrafugia wrote.

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2018/09/27/worlds-first-flying-car-to-go-on-sale-next-month-7983325/

The following is a video of the Terrafugia in action:

At $400k the first flying car is going to be a luxury item, at least initially. But there are plenty of well paid executives who loathe the daily commute, who might find the option of flying over traffic jams an attractive proposition. And in time, if the Terrafugia is a success, less expensive consumer versions of the flying car might become available.

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nw sage
September 27, 2018 6:36 pm

Now if it were just powered by batteries!

John Tillman
Reply to  nw sage
September 27, 2018 6:50 pm

Astin Martin’s flying car concept is a hybrid VTOL aircraft:

https://www.engadget.com/2018/07/16/aston-martin-volante-vision-luxury-air-taxi/

Meant to be a taxi, like Larry Page’s all electric, autonomous air taxi being trialed in NZ:

https://www.technologyreview.com/the-download/610515/larry-pages-air-taxis-are-in-testing-above-new-zealand/

gnomish
Reply to  nw sage
September 27, 2018 7:29 pm

pics for this are horribly outdated.
try this

gnomish
Reply to  gnomish
September 27, 2018 10:13 pm

well, the thumbnail for that vid was fake. sorry i didn’t check it first.
here’s the correct video

Bill
Reply to  gnomish
October 1, 2018 6:39 pm

Gnomish; I’ll believe that flying car when I see it. Three motors. Hinges for outboard electric engines. Hinges on the folding props. Batteries. Small wings. The thing will weigh 10 tons before it even gets to drive on the road.

kent beuchert
September 27, 2018 6:48 pm

Oh, brother! Just what we need, a bunch of amateur pilots causing congestion in the skies and accidents. I’d love to see how an insurance company is going to determine rates for one of these
things.

gnomish
Reply to  kent beuchert
September 27, 2018 8:40 pm

you’re kidding, right?
do you imagine there will be a traffic jam of 400,000$ vehicles in the sky?
really really?

dodgy geezer
Reply to  gnomish
September 27, 2018 9:02 pm

You won’t need many to cause a jam at an airport if they all want to land at once…

gnomish
Reply to  dodgy geezer
September 27, 2018 9:24 pm

they do not need an airport because they are VTOL.
the owner will land in his own parking lot and park in his reserved CEO space at his company and land in his ample driveway of his malibu home.
did you watch the vid?
(not the one from 10 years ago)

Pop Piasa
Reply to  gnomish
September 27, 2018 11:06 pm

Hopefully his (20 years younger) wife won’t forget to close the trash can and cause him to blow garbage all over the neighborhood via rotorwash.
It could however be a great way for the elite to keep the leaves blown from their driveways without hiring Mexicans.

Ian W
Reply to  gnomish
September 28, 2018 1:36 am

The VTOL aircraft was an artists impression shown in as a smooth animation. The real aircraft was the white aircraft with ‘experimental’ certification that needs, by the look of it, around 3000 – 4000 ft of runway.

gnomish
Reply to  gnomish
September 28, 2018 5:12 am

thanks Ian.
that inspired me to actually go to their website (the first thing anybody should do, duh)
https://www.terrafugia.com

Rocketscientist
Reply to  gnomish
September 28, 2018 8:14 am

Have you every worked around operating VTOL aircraft?
These seem attractive to the ignorant layman who doesn’t understand that in order to take off vertically one needs to produce enough downward thrust from your engines to accomplish this. Anyone who has worked around helicopters will be aware of this.
Just how long do you think you r neighbors will abide sticks, rocks, loose lawn furniture, etc. being tossed through their picture windows and wreaking havoc on their property? And the noise won’t be appreciated either.

Bryan A
Reply to  gnomish
September 28, 2018 9:55 am

Would like to see their actual VTOL prototype in action.
More than likely it would be almost as loud as a helicopter upon take off and landing.
For potential Noise restrictions in subdivisions, you would still need designated landing zones.
Then with the 400 – 500 mile range, the landing pads would need to be equipped with Fuel Pumps for convenient refueling. Hybrids still use Gas and need refueling.

taz1999
Reply to  gnomish
September 28, 2018 10:26 am

Ian W

Thanks for the simulation 2nd opinion. Operationally VTOL is pretty horrendous. The V-22 is way expensive and only an advantage in very limited scenarios. I think I saw the forward speed for VTOL landing was limited to 9mph. I doubt you’ll see these in hot LZs similar to Vietnam. I also thought I remember the Israel’s declined to purchase V-22’s. They did purchase f-35’s though I expect they were mostly interested in reverse engineering the technologies.

Also somewhere forgotten, I was seeing the stats that Light Sport Aircraft had dismal safety records vis-a-vis “regular” aircraft despite the stats showing LSA pilots were generally very experienced. The unproven suspicion was light wing loading and light control forces may make the LSA harder to control in takeoff and landings.

John Tillman
Reply to  gnomish
September 28, 2018 10:41 am

Scientist,

A light aircraft doesn’t need much lift to take off. This one uses a number of drone quadcopter-like props to provide VTOL lift, and a pusher main motor for level flight, for minimal downdraft on TO and landing:

https://cora.aero/

People wanting to use an autonomous drone air taxi or their own flying car could keep their driveways or landing pads clear of debris. If electric, the vehicles would be quiet.

tty
Reply to  gnomish
September 28, 2018 10:50 am

1. Whether light or heavy a VTO aircraft is it needs a downward thrust equal to its weight and then some.

2. Much, often most, of the noise from an aircraft is not engine noise, it is aerodynamic.

3. Current electric aircraft are about where conventional aircraft were in 1908 with regard to performance.

John Tillman
Reply to  gnomish
September 28, 2018 11:02 am

Tty,

Gas and diesel cars are also noisy. For commuting to work, the capabilities of 1908 a/c would be adequate. And electric a/c will improve, as did gasoline-powered flying machines.

Bleriot flew across the English Channel in 1909.

John Tillman
Reply to  gnomish
September 28, 2018 11:08 am

At last year’s Paris Air Show, NASA unveiled its electric aircraft with a claimed range of 600 miles, but of course not a VTOL design:

https://electrek.co/2017/06/21/all-electric-aircraft-eviation/

rocketscientist
Reply to  gnomish
September 28, 2018 1:09 pm

The noise from the engines can be hushed, but the noise from the props not as easily. And how are you going to force homeowners to maintain their yards and their neighbor’s yard free from detritus that will cause FOD (foreign object damage). We can’t even maintain our active airport runways free from FO.
The wing aspect ration of many of these concept vehicles is not optimized for low speed flight so relying on dynamic lift for takeoff and landing won’t occur.

gnomish
Reply to  gnomish
September 28, 2018 1:37 pm

people who buy 400k$ toys can afford a yard big enough for it to not annoy the neighbors
(electric fans shriek like a big leaf blower)
comment image

John Tillman
Reply to  gnomish
September 28, 2018 1:46 pm

Scientist,

It’s a lot harder to keep a carrier flight deck or commercial airport runways FOD-free than a back yard, landing pad or driveway.

The autonomous Cora air taxi’s wingspan is 36 feet.

http://evtol.news/aircraft/kitty-hawk-cora/

rocketscientist
Reply to  dodgy geezer
September 28, 2018 2:27 pm

Tillman, you obviously don’t own a yard. They are usually covered with loose vegetation which tends to obscure things like stones, golf balls, old tools, dog bones… Then there is the vegetation itself which will be stripped of leaves, small twigs.
I’ve walked decks of CVNs and backyards alike. While a backyard is smaller, it is far less controlled and maintained.
BTW when a CH-53 takes off it blows heavy tools overboard if they are not secured. Of course that’s a 46,000 lb helo. So a 3000 lb vehicle may only blow over the bird bath and send the bicycles flying or the roof off the shed.

Why are helopads constructed in specific places, with flat clear surfaces, usually far away from vegetation or other structures?

John Tillman
Reply to  rocketscientist
September 28, 2018 2:38 pm

Rocket,

I do have a yard, but would consider it better to build a concrete landing pad. Cora’s needn’t be big. Dunno its trike gear foot print, but a rectangular pad of 500 square feet should suffice.

I fly off and land on grass strips, so am fairly familiar with the kind of debris which can accumulate.

In Afghanistan, I saw a Chinook blow newly delivered refrigerators off the FOB’s river rock landing pad.

But Cora is not a Chinook.

John Tillman
Reply to  rocketscientist
September 28, 2018 2:50 pm

Cora was tested in the US from Hollister, CA airport, so its effect on grass isn’t visible in this video, although it does fly at low level over grass. It’s now being flown in NZ:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KCs-p7jWjc

IMO it would be possible to keep a few hundred sq ft of a lawn debris-free, but, as noted, a pad would be easier and more visible. Just using a grass strip daily would tend to keep it cleaner than the rest of the yard.

John Tillman
Reply to  rocketscientist
September 28, 2018 3:31 pm

RS,

This video has footage (for instance from ~2:47) of the German Volocopter (partnered with Intel) prototype lifting off from grass with 18 rotors rather than just 12, as on Cora. They are a bit higher off the ground than Cora’s however. No debris visible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tODIvUmH6cs

I grew up with my dad flying off a 1200′ grass crop dusting strip in an N3N, without even noticing a lot of debris, despite straw in the wheatfield next to the strip every other year. Obviously not a helicopter, but it did feature an oily, 235 hp Wright R-760-2 Whirlwind radial engine. And I’ve flown in crop dusting helicopters from grass and over fields, including to land in the woods.

Powerful military helicopters of course do kick up a lot of stuff and blow things away.

The flying taxis being developed now won’t have the same effect.

Yirgach
Reply to  rocketscientist
September 29, 2018 5:12 pm

I like the ay that the CORAs et al are being promoted as “emissions free” because they are electric. The NZ air taxi test seem to be based on that premise.
Where does the electricity come from??

Yirgach
Reply to  rocketscientist
September 29, 2018 5:22 pm

Utube not what I was going to reference, but Bwahhaaa!

john harmsworth
Reply to  gnomish
September 28, 2018 11:26 am

They’re Chinese. They convert to an automobile by having the wings fall off unexpectedly!

Steven MIller
Reply to  kent beuchert
September 27, 2018 9:05 pm

While I wouldn’t buy one of these and I doubt whether it will be a success… your concerns are unfounded. We have lived on an airport with our small airplanes for 25 years and been flying for longer than that. When we leave the airport we live on and fly a few hundred miles to another region the only time we usually see other aircraft is when we come to an airport.

Craig
Reply to  Steven MIller
September 27, 2018 11:05 pm

What plane do you own?

drednicolson
Reply to  kent beuchert
September 27, 2018 9:23 pm

Planes do not all fly at the same altitude, nor do they all have the same flight ceiling. Private single-engine planes don’t share the same airspace as commercial airliners, and typically don’t use the same runways either.

Mike Mitchell
Reply to  drednicolson
September 28, 2018 8:14 am

“Private single-engine planes don’t share the same airspace as commercial airliners” Wrong, oh yes we do. We just all do a good job staying away from each other.

Rah
Reply to  kent beuchert
September 28, 2018 12:20 am

If I thought this really would become a problem this truck driver would tell you all to be afraid, very afraid! The stuff I see out on the road makes it absolutely clear that it doesn’t matter what they are driving. Moronic drivers are pretty equally distributed across the financial spectrum as determined by the vehicle they’re driving.

Nearly everyday I avoid accidents and the proportion of morons in new Beamers, Mercs, and Cadies, that have dangerous driver’s behind the wheel seems to me to be about the same as those driving junk.
Heads up phones down!

AGW is not Science
Reply to  Rah
September 28, 2018 3:48 am

I agree. There’s way too many drivers that don’t practice lane discipline, don’t signal there intentions adequately (or at all), and who are paying attention to seemingly anything BUT driving.

And all of that is with the structure of marked lanes, entry and exit ramps, traffic signs and traffic signals. Just imagine the havoc the same idiots could cause WITHOUT all that “structure,” in the air. It’ll be raining aircraft in no time!

AGW is not Science
Reply to  AGW is not Science
September 28, 2018 3:49 am

Their intentions (damn cell phones)

simple-touriste
Reply to  AGW is not Science
September 29, 2018 7:46 am

When I was young, as noticed that on average, in Paris, you should bet against the signaled intention of a driver:

– a signal to turn shouldn’t be interpreted as a signal to turn just now, but some time in the future (that intersection, the next one…)
– a signal to turn in some direction shouldn’t be interpreted a signal to turn in that direction, could be the other one
– no signal to turn shouldn’t be interpreted as the intent to go straight, or even the intent to stop, read indication, think about it, and restart slowly

The correctly signaled intentions were way below 50%.

Now it seems slightly better, but there are still a lot of reckless drivers. (Also, reckless pedestrians.)

simple-touriste
Reply to  kent beuchert
September 28, 2018 10:01 am

It will piloted by Tesla automatic driving technology!

Tesla will use many high tech sensors to detect all objects whether by the visible spectrum or not, use advanced AI to identify the objects, and use autopilot to run into them.

john harmsworth
Reply to  simple-touriste
September 28, 2018 11:28 am

Maybe. If they don’t go broke by Christmas!

Speed
September 27, 2018 6:59 pm

Not the first.

Aerocar International’s Aerocar (often called the Taylor Aerocar) was an American roadable aircraft, designed and built by Moulton Taylor in Longview, Washington, in 1949. Although six examples were built, the Aerocar never entered production.
[ … ]
Civil certification was gained in 1956 under the auspices of the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), and Taylor reached a deal with Ling-Temco-Vought for serial production on the proviso that he was able to attract 500 orders. When he was able to find only half that number of buyers, plans for production ended, and only six examples were built, with one still flying as of 2008 and another rebuilt by Taylor into the only Aerocar III.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerocar

There is one in the EAA Museum in Oshkosh, WI.

commieBob
Reply to  Speed
September 27, 2018 10:51 pm

The headline is flat out wrong. The company is more careful:

‘The Transition is the world’s first practical flying car,’ Terrafugia wrote.

They say it’s practical. I suppose it is practical as long as you carefully define the word ‘practical’. 🙂

Reply to  commieBob
September 28, 2018 5:58 am

Well, my post was going to be this: “Totally frigging impractical”. And I was going to put it at the end of the existing comments, but you gave me a better place to put it, commieBOB.

This is a rich-boy toy par excellence. Now Americans have another avenue to become even more stupid. And you thought texting while driving on the ground was a problem !

Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s super stupid ?

Bryan A
Reply to  commieBob
September 28, 2018 9:58 am

Well, at $400,000 it is Practical-ly practical
Practical Joke that is

Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  Speed
September 28, 2018 12:17 am

Does anyone remember the Bob Cummings TV Show in the early ‘60s? He flew an Aerocar.

Lee L
Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
September 28, 2018 11:09 am

Yep. Circa 1960.
There used to be one on display at SeaTac airport ( Seattle/Tacoma).

Here’s what the Aerocar looked like:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFle5FSY1p4

If I remember correctly, Bob Cummings was also an investor in the company.

Lee L
Reply to  Lee L
September 28, 2018 11:18 am

Yep. Circa 1960.
There used to be one on display at SeaTac airport ( Seattle/Tacoma).

Here’s what the Aerocar looked like:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFle5FSY1p4

If I remember correctly, Bob Cummings was also an investor in the company.

Wings and other bits were towed behind on little trailer I think, then assembled at the airport.

Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  Lee L
September 28, 2018 1:40 pm

The Aerocar appears more stable and easier to fly and land than the Transition airplane which has wings low to the ground and rear wheels (main gear) well back of the CG.

rocketscientist
Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
September 28, 2018 2:37 pm

Location of the landing gear will determine how well the vehicle can ‘rotate’ during takeoff. B-52’s use a bicycle landing gear configuration with the CG well ahead of the aft gear (most planes employ tricycle configurations). This only means that the plane must fly itself off the ground without rotating (no pitch-up) and that it requires a longer field.
Low wings can cause issues with cross wind landings if the landing gear is short. Its hard to crab, dip and yaw when you have less ground clearance.

Raymond Belanger
Reply to  Speed
September 28, 2018 1:49 am

Exactly. Even if they were expensive (i.e. $1.5 milion) the real problem was the number of licences and medical exams needed to drive and fly was the real reason that these were not “practical”. I don’t think these present guys can bypass these requirements any time soon.

Jeff Alberts
September 27, 2018 7:03 pm

Not really a flying car.

Mike Mitchell
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
September 28, 2018 8:16 am

Nor much of a drive-able airplane either!

Jon Salmi
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
September 28, 2018 8:34 am

Quite right, it is really just an airplane, that would be used for some extended taxiing, It is more of a driving airplane than a flying car.

Joel O'Bryan
September 27, 2018 7:05 pm

Why?
It obviously sucks as a car, and it probably sucks even more as a plane. Clearly it has little cargo capacity with those small wings and dangerous stall characteristics. It is not VSTOL, so you’d still need a decent runway for T/O and landing.
If you can afford $400,000 for a novelty, then you’d be better buying a reliable proven light aircraft and 2 inexpensive cars at your two favorite destinations, or just Uber it.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 27, 2018 7:50 pm

All else aside, for the wealthy executive, it will be no more than a status and recreational toy for those who have flying as a hobby.

For commuting, they’ll stick with what they use now. Whether a limousine or a Learjet, a high level executive is doing business while they commute. Usually company business, although sometimes monkey business. Neither of which is possible in this contraption.

Mike
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 28, 2018 12:58 pm

For the price of topping off the tank, I’ve had good luck just mooching a car from an FBO employee for a couple hours 😉

DaveR
September 27, 2018 7:05 pm

What could possibly go wrong with this?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  DaveR
September 27, 2018 7:09 pm

Folding wings… meet turbulence.
Good thing it has an emergency parachute.

And notice the test flight in the video was on a very cold day.

John Tillman
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 27, 2018 7:20 pm

Joel,

I grant you, not double folded wings as with the “flying car”.

comment image

A taxiing aircraft could be considered a flying car.

gnomish
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 27, 2018 8:42 pm

maybe you should notice the video is from 2009 and no longer relevant?
it’s fake news now, mmk?

Speed
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 27, 2018 9:44 pm

Perhaps you should share your concerns about folding wings with the US Navy — they have a lot of them.

John Tillman
Reply to  Speed
September 27, 2018 9:56 pm

Speed,

That’s why I posted the link to a photo of the Corsair, flown by my USMC aviator dad.

But yes, many other USN a/c share this feature, as Joel well knows.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  Speed
September 27, 2018 10:22 pm

Yes, and the aircraft individual wing-fold mechanism may actually be better engineered and tested.

John Tillman
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 27, 2018 10:27 pm

It probably is, but I’d feel a bit better if the pilot/driver had to get out an unfold it and lock it in place personally.

rocketscientist
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 28, 2018 8:26 am

True, the ones properly designed and tested have been properly designed and tested. And, the Navy has good reason for wanting folded wings due to limited deck space on CVNs. But, they mechanisms add a lot of weight and risk. (a mechanism that is not there cannot break or fail). As a consequence, and you know this well, the rest of the vehicle needs to accommodate this added weight with beefed up structure and landing mechanisms (the hard landings don’t help).

John Tillman
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 28, 2018 10:10 am

Scientist,

Carrier aircraft do of course have to weigh more, but their beefier landing gear and reinforced structures also make them tougher, safer and more survivable in crashes.

rocketscientist
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 28, 2018 1:02 pm

John,
The heavier aircraft also comes with: reduced range (combat radius), increased fuel consumption, reduced payload capacity… improved survivability not so much.

I’ve been involved in aircraft design since the YF-17 became the F-18 and the navy pilots said “Hey, we test flew a sports car (YF-17) and you delivered a family sedan (F-18)!”

There are very good reasons why ‘flying cars’ have not become practical and none of the reasons have been obviated.

“The Piper Cub is the safest small plane around, it can just barely kill you.”
-test pilot

John Tillman
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 28, 2018 2:02 pm

rocketscientist September 28, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Yet some customers appreciate Hornet’s ruggedness. And the USAF adopted F-4.

The new record holder for way heavier than it should be of course is F-35 in all three variants.

John Tillman
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 28, 2018 2:04 pm

PS:

I have a lot of time in a Super Cub in the mountains and have not yet died.

But it would be a good way to go (unless a young passenger or pilot should be aboard). As the old, not so bold aviators say, “It beats cancer.”

Greg Cavanagh
September 27, 2018 7:18 pm

James Bond did it in 1974

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
September 27, 2018 8:57 pm

IIRC that was a real “vehicle”, not sure if it was a car with wings attached or a small plane make to look like a car, but it did fall out of the sky killing the pilot. The film continued using a model.

drednicolson
Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
September 27, 2018 9:37 pm

My first thought of Bond + flying car was the corkscrew jump over the broken bridge in Live and Let Die. One of the most awesome car stunts ever pulled off, and the director set it to a slide whistle. A freakin’ slide whistle!

RoHa
Reply to  drednicolson
September 27, 2018 10:47 pm

The corkscrew jump looked unbelievable, but was actually done. But the most unbelievable part of the film was the car chase through central Bangkok. Even when the film was made, that would have been impossible. In today’s traffic you need a VTOL car to move at all.

rocketscientist
Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
September 28, 2018 1:18 pm

Yeah, but how exactly did he land that vehicle on his island that Bond had to fly a small seaplane to? 🙂

John the Econ
September 27, 2018 7:23 pm

Since the dawn of aviation, people have dreamed of the “flying car”. It will likely never happen. All attempts to date have made for both mediocre airplanes and mediocre cars.
Most of the attributes that make for an excellent airplane and excellent automobile are diametrically opposed. There are just too many compromises.

Plus consider the practical problems. Airplanes are pretty well protected from damage at airports. Would you feel comfortable leaving your $400,000 airplane in a parking lot, where what would be a considered a minor bump by a careless driver with an ordinary care could possibly mean 10s-of-thousands of dollars when it happens to a relatively fragile airframe? In aviation, such episodes are rare, and very expensive when they do happen.

dodgy geezer
Reply to  John the Econ
September 27, 2018 9:18 pm

…Plus consider the practical problems. Airplanes are pretty well protected from damage at airports. Would you feel comfortable leaving your $400,000 airplane in a parking lot, where what would be a considered a minor bump by a careless driver…

This sounds like the classic mistake the environmentalists make – judging the future by what exists in the present,.

IF we ever get lots of flying cars which need parking at an airport, and
IF those cars are as expensive and delicate as current aircraft,
THEN no doubt the parking facilities will be arranged accordingly…..

Jtom
Reply to  dodgy geezer
September 28, 2018 8:09 am

Just what value is a flying car if it could only be parked at the airport or at home? If I can’t fly/drive it to my final destination, why bother with it? A small, private helipad at home and helicopter would accomplish the same thing.

John the Econ
Reply to  dodgy geezer
September 28, 2018 9:14 am

I somehow doubt that a meaningful number of commercial venues are going to go to the trouble of setting up separate parking accommodations just for this. Look how controversial it was just getting handicap spots.

tty
Reply to  dodgy geezer
September 28, 2018 10:56 am

A flying car to be practical would need to park in a lot of other places than at airports. Like in the street or in mall parking lots.

John Tillman
Reply to  tty
September 28, 2018 11:06 am

Tty,

Businesses will have landing pads in their parking lots or on their roofs. Downtowns will use the top level of parking structures.

John the Econ
Reply to  John Tillman
September 28, 2018 1:18 pm

The auto-car mentioned in this article is not a VTOL vehicle. It operates like a conventional airplane out of conventional airports, and is then intended to operate on conventional roadways.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
September 28, 2018 1:31 pm

John,

I know. But we drifted onto the topic of VTOL a/c.

TheImpaler
September 27, 2018 7:28 pm

Flying range?

September 27, 2018 7:28 pm

Wait till someone presses the wrong button and the wings fold away during flight. By the way, does it come in a driverless version for pampered executives?

Craig from Oz
September 27, 2018 8:02 pm

I am more bemused that they bothered to name the guy wearing the red shirt in the first photo.

Why do we have to bother learning his name? We all know he will be killed before the first commercial break.

OweninGA
Reply to  Craig from Oz
September 28, 2018 6:08 am

nah, he is chief engineer, he’ll make it through at least five seasons.

JimG1
September 27, 2018 8:04 pm

New years eve 1968 I was in a flying van. Flew then rolled 6 times and, Lord knows why, all three of us that were in the van are still here. No, I was not driving.

dodgy geezer
Reply to  JimG1
September 27, 2018 9:21 pm
Cameron Kuhns
September 27, 2018 8:05 pm

No thanks. I will keep all 4 wheels and 2 feet on the ground.

Pierre
September 27, 2018 8:24 pm

A price of $400k is an awfully light price tag for an airplane let alone one that doubles as an automobile. They won’t be for sale in the USA as I assume the Chinese government is the manufactures liability insurer. I doubt $400k would underwrite the insurance here.
Could be offered as a kit here though.

fxk
September 27, 2018 8:27 pm

Gawd. Busy execs can’t even drive their own car and not crash it. Imagine air-cars crashing – they have to land somewhere. No such thing as a fender-bender in the air. Insurance? Who’d give anyone liability? Think also about cost of operation – it’s not like the FAA allows mechanics to shortcut maintenance – Gee honey, get the air-car an oil change down at jiffy lube today? Missed it? That’s ok.

drednicolson
September 27, 2018 9:39 pm

That don’t exactly look street legal. Better keep a regular old car around for when inclement weather keeps you grounded. 🙂

michael hart
September 27, 2018 9:40 pm

Goodness. What will they think of next? Flying boats?
Ohh….

John Hardy
September 27, 2018 10:45 pm

The concept is crazy in today’s world. If you want to use a small aircraft for transport, you have to be prepared to operate IFR (under Instrument Flight Rules) and cope with things like icing, filing flight plans and calculating fuel reserves for diversions. In today’s world you also need a great quantity of specialised electronics and know how to use them. A job for professionals.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Hardy
September 27, 2018 10:47 pm

John,

Commuting to work in Los Angeles, not so much.

Ve2
September 27, 2018 10:49 pm

First fly car? the are about 60 years too late.

Mike Mitchell
Reply to  Ve2
September 28, 2018 9:11 am

Further back if you count the Aerobile which had you leaving the wing behind at the airport.

Alan Tomalty
September 27, 2018 11:02 pm

So the George Jetson era has finally arrived. But where is the promised milk out of the tap? If this craze ever takes off the traffic jams in the air will be worse than on the ground. Air traffic controllers have to reserve lots of space between air planes so the skies will get too filled up too quickly. However it will decongest the roads for a while.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
September 28, 2018 5:42 am

D. Anderson
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
September 28, 2018 8:13 am

Yea, but could George Jetson fly it?

John Tillman
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
September 28, 2018 10:29 am

Alan,

Air traffic will be controlled by AI algorithms, with self-flying cars and taxis communicating with and sensing each others’ positions.

Given the third dimensions, crashes will probably be fewer than on the ground.

WR
September 27, 2018 11:35 pm

What a stupid idea. We don’t need flying cars, just like we don’t need flying toasters. Specialization is the mark of an advanced society. We have machines for specific purposes, that do their specific job well. Do those who fly their own private planes really suffer from a lack of ground transportation? I hope the idiots who invested in this have money to burn.

Jones
September 27, 2018 11:38 pm

Does it have afterburners?

September 28, 2018 12:10 am

Yes the first powered flight, before the Wright Bros, was a car before it took off, flew quite a while then changed back to being a car.

MJE

Jones
Reply to  Michael
September 28, 2018 12:32 am

Introducing the Truck Plane. Eco-friendly diesel too.

Warren Blair
September 28, 2018 12:16 am

Global warming – flying cars – similar level of insanity . . .

Rah
September 28, 2018 12:36 am

The first big problem with the concept of the flying car is, no matter what the cost, no easily convertable prototype developed so far does either very well. Until that problem is solved all the other concerns are just academic.

Flight Level
September 28, 2018 2:21 am

In road mode it has hybrid propulsion so greenies should go ecstatic.
However a low-wing with the main landing gear that aft from the center of gravity, not something I’ll like to handle in crosswinds. and.. Ok, that’s not the topic.
I’m afraid it would remain a novelty reserved to the happy few ones with private pilot license, radio operator ticket, valid medical, driver’s license and a fair amount of hours on the dial, able to assume the maintenance costs of an aircraft parked on a supermarket lot.
But, hey, even so it’s much more realistic than the desperate attempts to achieve an electric propulsion flight.

Steve O
September 28, 2018 5:03 am

This is a luxury, novelty item.

It is a reality of engineering that any “flying car” will underperform as both a plane and a car. You can’t exactly land in your parking lot, so the only advantage to such a… thing is that you don’t also have to rent a car at whatever airport you fly to. If I’m flying to my cottage out of town, how hard is it to fly a real plane and then get into the Jaguar that keep there in my assigned parking spot there.

And if someone bumps into your “car” while getting groceries, the FAA has to recertify your “car” for flight.

MattS
September 28, 2018 5:34 am

The ultimate problem with “flying cars” is government regulations, not tech.

In nearly every western democracy, driving a “flying car” on surface streets will require a drivers license, and flying the car will require a pilots license and require that you take of and land at approved airports/landing strips, you will get in serious legal trouble if you attempt to launch one of these things from city streets in almost any country.

Reply to  MattS
October 1, 2018 4:05 am

Yes, must force the little people to grovel to the Department of Motorist Extortion & Privacy Violation. But the Red Chinese Peoples’ Special Transition has that hard-wired in.

The SkyCar worked decades ago, but then the guberment swooped in: all test flights must be tethered, multiple redundancy computer control & routing, yadda yadda yadda. Price still climbing the last I checked. Cousin Harold used to buzz the house in the 1940s & 1950s, I’m told… ane everywhere in chains.

Tom in Florida
September 28, 2018 5:43 am

Next up, transporters. Those will make all vehicles obsolete.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
September 28, 2018 6:11 am

Tom in F,

Transporters? How primitive ! Think outside the box — no transportation AT ALL, just all hooked together with tubes, in stasis, living in virtual reality (ala MATRIX). This way we could be at one with the computer models – Om mani padme hum Just re-define some of those words to mean “computer model” — a timeless mixture of spiritual tradition and modern technology.

ResourceGuy
September 28, 2018 6:29 am

I nominate Al Gore, Jerry Brown, and most the NY AG as test “drivers” for the first model.

D. Anderson
September 28, 2018 8:13 am

It’s not a real flying car until a dimwit like George Jetson can drive it.

Mike Mitchell
September 28, 2018 8:37 am

It seems that whoever tries to combine a car with an airplane always ends up with something that is hopelessly unable to perform the function of either very well.

Police chases could be interesting though –

John
September 28, 2018 9:20 am

“It travels at just 100 miles per hour, making it slower than the world’s most sluggish jet, the Soviet PZL M-15…”

Of course it’s slower — it’s piston driven.

tty
Reply to  John
September 28, 2018 11:03 am

PZL M-15 was polish actually.

John Tillman
Reply to  tty
September 28, 2018 11:11 am

Tty,

Correct. Designed in Poland at Soviet “request”, for use on large collective farms in USSR.

http://www.samolotypolskie.pl/samoloty/2373/126/PZL-M15-Belfegor

Mike M.
Reply to  John
September 28, 2018 12:48 pm

In fact most single engine piston trainer planes cruise faster than 100mph. Beech Skipper – 121mph. Cessna 152 – 120 mph. Piper Tomahawk – 115 mph.

Chino780
September 28, 2018 10:20 am

World’s First Death by Flying Car to happen next month.

Quinn
September 28, 2018 10:33 am

Terrafugia was started many years ago by several MIT alumni and based in Woburn, MA. It was purchased last year by a Chinese conglomerate, so I guess it is technically a chinese company now

SocietalNorm
Reply to  Quinn
September 28, 2018 5:31 pm

Likely was purchased so the intellectual property of the company and any teammates and subcontractors could be examined by the People’s Liberation Army.

ResourceGuy
September 28, 2018 12:27 pm

Will it be self driving like the car that killed a pedestrian in AZ?

mike
September 28, 2018 7:07 pm

We truly have raised a generation of gullible fools. Attempts to market and sell a car/aircraft began in the 1950’s and the idea is as stupid and impractical today as it has ever been. Pipe dreams. Musk territory.

Mike Borgelt
September 28, 2018 8:46 pm

Who needs driving? What aviation needs is to be more practical. Distributed electric VTOL with conventional engine and prop for cruise will work. No more large airports or taking off and landing at high speed.
See evtol.news

William
Reply to  Mike Borgelt
September 28, 2018 10:49 pm

Actually, a long extension cord should do the trick.

Roger Collier
September 28, 2018 11:58 pm

Pierre Levegh showed us how safe and practical flying cars can be.

Old Mikie
September 29, 2018 7:45 am

Sigh, yet another media phenomenon, doomed to being irrelevant. Hyped by know-nothing journalists who are not inherently dumb but are almost guaranteed to be ignorant of the realities of engineering.
Where to begin?
It will require a pilots license which is not too difficult to earn, but is a significant investment of time and money.
It will be both a crap car and a crap airplane. A car hauling airplane parts and a plane hauling car parts. The enemy in both cases is weight which kills aircraft performance. One example is the folding wing system, how much does that weigh since every pound added is one less pound of passengers or fuel.
Judging it as an aircraft: How fast? Payload? Fuel burn rate? Range? Servcie ceiling?
And as a car: How safe? Fuel ecomomy? Comfort and convenience? Braking, handling and acceleration? Cruise control? Operation in poor weather? (oops to be more practical you will need it IFR certified and need an IFR rating).
And then there is aircraft maintenance. As a certified aircraft it will need to be maintained to FAA standards by an A&E mechanic. Everything to FAA standards. And that will cost dearly.
400K will buy you both a better car and a better airplane!

Quilter52
October 1, 2018 12:23 am

I don’t think its the first. I remember seeing a flying car in the Museum of Aviation in Seattle along with film of it flying.

RG
October 3, 2018 2:31 pm

“World’s first flying car.”

Welcome to our new fact free (history doesn’t exist, right?) world. Sorry Molt Taylor, your flying car happened too long ago to be considered real, or something.

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