Terrafugia is excited to announce that we have completed a detailed design review of the carbon fiber seats that will be used in our conforming prototype, D4. A vital element of the vehicle, the seat subsystem has been carefully designed to maximize safety and comfort both in the air and on the ground while minimizing weight, cost, and complexity of assembly. Completion of a detailed design review means that molds have been finalized and plybooks have been released detailing the construction of the seat shells. This required detailed drawings of 15 different parts as well as precise designs for the molds that will be used in the construction of carbon fiber pieces.
The finalization of the conforming prototype mold designs will allow us to move forward with development of a seat test article that can be used for a variety of load bearing tests. These tests have been developed in compliance with ASTM and FMVSS standards for required load bearing capacity as a plane and as a car, and they will ensure that the seat will be able to safely withstand crash events in both flight and drive modes. Specifically, the carbon fiber seats built from these molds will undergo a 1,300 pound load test simulating the weight of a person down on the seat in an air crash event, in addition to a load test of 460 pounds against the back of the seat to simulate the force of luggage pushed from the luggage compartment into the seat in a road crash event. The new seat mold designs incorporate broader, stronger ribbing for structural support specifically in order to satisfy these regulatory requirements.
In addition, while we intentionally aimed to minimize the changes between the seats in the conforming prototype and the previous iteration, the new designs do include several important improvements that incorporate feedback and lessons learned from previous models. As well as helping us move forward with extensive load bearing tests that will improve safety, the new seats will feature improved ergonomics (the addition of lumbar support in the back and a slightly scooped bottom will make the seats more comfortable than those in the current prototype), more room for joystick mobility in front of the seat, and a more robust rib structure that will help the seats support a larger load.
The photo below shows the molds and carbon fiber ribs – recently built in our shop – that will make up the backbone of the seat subsystem in the Transition® conforming prototype.