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Monday, January 12, 2009

Technology News - First flying automobile to take air test next month

LONDON: The first flying automobile, equally at home in the sky and on the road, is scheduled to take to the air next month. 

If the automobile, which can transform itself from a two-seater road car to a plane in 15 seconds, survives its first test flight next month, it is expected to land in showrooms in about 18 months, The Sunday Times claimed. 

The Terrafugia Transition, developed by former NASA engineers, is powered by the same 100bhp engine on the ground and in the air. 

Its manufacturer, Carl Dietrich, who runs the Massachusetts-based Terrafugia, said the flying automobile uses normal unleaded fuel and fits into a garage. 

Dietrich claimed that Terrafugia will be able to fly up to 800 km on a single tank of petrol at a cruising speed of 115mph. Up to now, however, it has been tested only on roads at up to 90 mph, he added. 

"This is the first really integrated design where the wings fold up automatically and all the parts are in one vehicle," Dietrich said. 

Dietrich said he had already received 40 orders despite an expected retail price of USD 200,000. Though, he accepted concerns over its price. 

"For an airplane that's very reasonable, but for a car that's very much at the high end," he admitted. 
There are still some drawbacks in launching the auto- mobile as getting insurance may be a little tricky and finding somewhere to take off may not be straightforward, he said. 

Alaska is the only place in the US where taking off from a road is legal. 

Dietrich said, "In the long term we have the potential to make air travel practical for individuals at a price that would meet or beat driving, with huge time savings."

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