Terrafugia CEO Carl Dietrich writes in a letter to stakeholders that the company is “not as far along as we had hoped to be a year ago. We have encountered a number of the challenges that are common in aircraft development programmes, including problems with third-party suppliers”.
Dietrich says despite the company working to minimise the impact of these problems, Terrafugia has been forced to alter its expected roll-out schedule.
“It remains our goal to show one of the two production prototypes at EAA AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh in the US this July, but the vehicle will not be ready to fly at the show. This is similar to the stage that the proof-of-concept (POC) vehicle was in at Oshkosh 2008 in other words, mostly complete, but untested.
“If we extrapolate from our experience with the POC, the first test flights would be expected in March of next year. To appropriately set expectations and adjust our scheduling margins based on recent experience with suppliers and other key third-party contributors, we feel it is necessary to extend our anticipated first delivery date to late 2012.”
Dietrich says Terrafugia's investor base and order book remain strong, despite the production challenges the company faces.
“Our team continues to be committed to pushing the schedule forward as quickly as possible, but safety and quality must remain our top priorities – particularly as we begin our rigorous testing programme. We will continue to focus our efforts on developing the safest, most convenient, and most fun personal aircraft the aviation world has ever seen.”
Terrafugia (pronounced terra-FOO-gee-ah) was founded by five pilots who graduated from the well-known Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the US.
Terrafugia is Latin for ‘escape from land’.
In 2009, the company completed the first successful test flight of its two-seater car that becomes a plane that becomes a car again.
When driving, the wings fold up, and when the driver has the urge to fly, the wings can unfold in 30 seconds.
In driving mode, the vehicle is 2 m tall, 2.3 m wide, and 6 m long. When flying, only the width changes as the wings unfold, expanding to 8 m.
Cruise speed when flying is 172 km/h, with fuel burn at 18.9 ℓ/h.
The Transition uses normal unleaded petrol, rather than aviation fuel.
Top speed when hitting the tar is 105 km/h, at 14.9 km/l. The range when flying is 787 km/h.