Aircraft company Terrafugia hopes to make flying cars a reality in the near future. The new TF-X model could soon be available. If potential buyers are wealthy enough, they will be able to purchase the vehicle for around $279,000 upon its release. However, the company acknowledges that there are significant technical obstacles to overcome before allowing the “flying car” to be placed on the market.
From a technological standpoint, the model is very impressive, and provides an exquisite perspective on how advanced recent technologies have become in the past decade. Not only do humans now have hybrid cars and unmanned flying devices, but now the aircraft company Terrafugia has let in the possibility of humans using flying cars at some point in the future.
According to physicist and science fiction writer Gregory Benford, components to perfect a car’s performance and a plane’s performance are entirely different in terms of their individual mechanic compositions. If one decides to make a flying car, they will be neither good planes nor good cars.
In agreement with Benford, many engineers and mechanics commenting on the project to make flying cars a reality suggest that anything that will be called a flying car will either be a car that can fly for a short time, or a plane-like vehicle that can drive during bad weather or in areas where flying is not a legal option.
As the aircraft company states that the TF-X model will go wherever its driver wants while on autopilot, one would not have to undergo driving lessons. However, since it is still considered an aircraft, post 9/11 rules might perhaps make it difficult to even get such a license for a flying car in the near future. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) only allows these kinds of vehicles to carry only one passenger at a time.
While the aircraft company Terrafugia hopes to make flying cars a reality, Popular Mechanics (PM), a website which specifically focuses on new technologies such as the introduction of Terrafugia’s TF-X, heavily doubts its near inception into households across the country. Although the commentators agree that this is an engineering breakthrough, they argue that it will likely “become none less than a novelty craft,” due to the number of limitations.
These limitations that were stated by PM first included the fact that it will be difficult for the company to produce the flying cars at the advertised price, as aircraft are almost always more expensive to build than originally anticipated. Second, its certification standard will require “significant performance restrictions.” This means that the vehicle will need to adhere to several safety and weight requirements set forth by the FAA. Next, the “light aircraft” market is highly competitive, as other companies have succeeded through offering private jets that offer other nice accommodations at comparable prices. Another limitation is that its legal future will most likely be complicated in that the FAA cannot yet determine the level of training required to fly the TF-X.
Perhaps the biggest limitation the flying car has yet to face in becoming a reality is that its design will also impede performance. Since cars and aircraft differ in design and functionality, creating a vehicle capable of excelling at both will be very difficult to produce with positive aerodynamic results.
While the aircraft company Terrafugia hopes to make flying cars a reality, it will surely take some time before their project can actually come to life. While the company has created an outstanding result of the concept of a flying car, it is still too expensive and unfeasible for the prototype to reach consumers any time in the near future.
By Scott Gaudinier