11:23 PM

Will This Be a
Terrafugia Christmas?

Word out of the just-concluded AOPA Expo in San Jose is that Terrafugia's super groovy roadable airplane, the Transition, may fly before Santa does next month.

AOPA Pilot Editor Thomas B. Haines – while still reserving the right to question whether it's a car or an airplane – said this:

"Terrafugia CEO/CTO Carl Dietrich reported at AOPA Expo that the first Transition roadable airplane might fly in early December. If it doesn’t fly by mid-December, the first flight will likely be postponed until early 2009. The vehicle (Is it a car or an airplane?) has been driving around on its own power for several weeks and more recently is undergoing taxi tests and tests to validate the flight control effectiveness. Static load testing is complete."
One point that Haines brought out in his AOPA piece was the subject of crash testing, always a costly endeavor and one that has had many people watching this project wondering just what Team Terrafugia would do to satisfy the brass at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Again, from AOPA:
"As for road safety, Dietrich reported that the Transition will meet automotive standards in most ways, but because of the cost of crash testing, the company won’t be able to prove all of the safety features for some time. The Department of Transportation allows for low-volume automotive manufacturers to amortize the cost of such testing over a number of years if the manufacturer can show that the vehicle is built in a safe way and that a plan to prove its design through crash testing is in place. Terrafugia is applying for such an exemption."
There have always been major hurdles this project has had to face on the road to production, and as promised, the design team has brilliantly hit every important milepost. They said they would design a folding wing...they did. They said they would get the Transition onto the road for tests...it is there now. So who among us can doubt these now-seasoned MIT engineers when they say their vehicle will fly very soon?

As one person who has sat down and spoken with the Terrafugia crew face-to-face, I have absolutely no doubts this vehicle will make it to production - that is not the true test of this project.

No, the true test of the Transition will be whether it – along with the entire GA community – can withstand the daily floggings we've been receiving from the financial meltdown. It would be simply great to have Bernanke and Poulson lavish a few hundred BILLION on our industry much as they have with the many pathetically-managed loser companies that are bleeding red ink from their greedy open wounds.

A Federal bailout for GA, of course, will never happen. So we as aviators must fix our mess ourselves by doing one thing: Buy stuff. The new airplane you buy today might be the one ship that keeps an assembly line open and a factory floor filled with bodies. If enough of us buy new avionics or LSAs, upstarts get to stay in business. We need to come together as one body and make sure we don't turn off the spigot to the flow of money that keeps aviation companies alive.

Go ahead, do your part...buy something today. A great place to start is here.

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