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Transition flying car into 'beta test': Deliveries from 2011

In this case 'beta test' = new prototype

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The makers of the Terrafugia Transition - the closest thing to a flying car yet built - say that flight testing of the initial "proof of concept" vehicle is now complete, and that the Transition has been shown to be a viable proposition. Terrafugia will now build a "beta test prototype", incorporating lessons learned by the first phase of flight tests. First customer deliveries are now expected in 2011.

The Terrafugia Transition in flight tests accompanied by chase plane

The traffic round here's bloody terrible.

The Transition isn't a proper Jetsons-grade flying car. It can't hover or make vertical takeoffs/landings; it's noisy in flight; it isn't any more able to cope with poor visibility or congested airspace than a normal light aircraft. You can't use it to beat the rush-hour traffic and fly to your office in the city centre.

But the Transition is a successful "roadable aeroplane". It takes off, lands and flies like any other light plane, using small local airfields. On the ground, the pilot can press a button and in 30 seconds the wings fold up. The propellor is disconnected, and the Transition becomes a front-wheel-drive car with typical performance. It runs on unleaded, and will fit into a single-car garage. You only need a US "sport pilot" licence - significantly easier and cheaper to get than a normal private pilot's licence - to fly it.

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