Woburn, MA– We anticipate an exciting year at Terrafugia, and we want to provide you with a status report on our activities with the Transition®.
On Saturday, October 27, 2012, we showed the Transition® in action to 300 employees, customers, investors, FAA and other government personnel at Lawrence Municipal Airport. Chief Test Pilot Phil Meteer put the vehicle through its paces, demonstrating the Transition® driving, converting and flying — and then converting and driving again.
In 2012, Terrafugia CEO/CTO Carl Dietrich closed a $2.7 million Series D1 investment round, and Terrafugia successfully completed its contribution to Phase II of the DARPA TX program with the delivery of ¾ scale hardware and test data. In the meantime, Terrafugia COO Anna Mracek Dietrich has been actively participating as an industry representative on the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to analyze and provide recommendations for the revamp of FAR Part 23 which has given the company tremendous insight into the evolution of the light aircraft certification process. These new developments have led Terrafugia to initiate a new internal program which we look forward to announcing at the appropriate time.
We are actively flight testing and drive testing to evaluate the durability of the Transition® airframe in real-world environments. Any issues that are discovered in this phase of testing are either noted as items for evaluation and potential redesign on the next vehicle or are modified in place on the current prototype. Once the engineering team is satisfied that the majority of the field issues have been identified from this prototype, we will evaluate if the number and magnitude of potential modifications warrant the construction of another prototype prior to final compliance testing for certification.
Although the team is very pleased with the vehicle’s flying and driving characteristics, there is always room for improvement. Recent flight testing has resulted in some aerodynamic improvements to the Transition®. The most substantial modification has been the extension of the leading edge strake at the root of the wing. The primary purpose of this modification is to reduce the magnitude of the wing-fuselage interference drag. A secondary benefit of this modification has been stiffening of the doors. The team has also received positive feedback on the resulting aesthetic improvement.
The Transition® must meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as part of the automotive certification process. Drive testing has moved from our corporate parking lot to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Recent testing has determined that the Transition® is capable of stopping from a speed of 60 miles per hour in a distance of only 110 feet on dry pavement! This remarkable braking performance is due to a combination of the Transition’s powerful all-wheel disc brakes, its low weight, and its tires which provide excellent grip. Our test drivers have been impressed with the Transition’s ground performance. “It handles really well – especially considering it’s an airplane; it’s fun to drive!” says Vice President of Engineering, Andrew Heafitz.
The Terrafugia team is committed to delivering the best possible street-legal airplane to our loyal customers.
While we continue to make significant progress toward production, we do not have a specific date for certification and initial production at this time. To use a metaphor, we are not at the finish line, but we can see it from here. In that regard, Mracek Dietrich says, “We are confident that production is on the horizon, but the final schedule will be substantially informed by the necessary actions that result from the ongoing testing program.” While we appreciate that there is substantial interest in knowing when production will begin, the current endurance testing must be completed to determine if an additional design refinement cycle may be warranted prior to initial production.
Strong Interest Continues:
In 2012, the Transition® order backlog surpassed the 100 customer mark and now represents approximately $30 million of product. We look forward to the day when you can experience flying and driving the Transition® yourself. We know that within the aviation and automotive media, interest is high. However, the general public and mass media remain fascinated by this concept as well. Terrafugia YouTube videos have been viewed more than 5,000,000 times.
We thank you for your interest and support and will keep you apprised periodically of our activities as the year progresses.
Carl Dietrich, Chief Executive Officer/Chief Technology Officer
Anna Mracek Dietrich, Chief Operating Officer
Richard Gersh, VP Business Development
Terrafugia (terra-FOO-gee-ah), based in Woburn, MA, is a growing aerospace company founded by pilots and engineers from MIT and supported by a world-class network of advisors and private investors. The company name is Latin for “escape the earth.” Terrafugia’s mission is to design and deliver revolutionary, practical ‘flying cars’ that provide freedom, flexibility and fun to their loyal customers.
More information can be found online at http://www.terrafugia.com.