TodayApril 16, 2022

First Flying Car with No Pilot License Required

Terrafugia in the Big Apple

We’ve seen the Terrafugia transition at the New York auto show. Now Terrafugia is bringing out TF-X, a flying car that, according to Terrafugia, should take an average driver no more than five hours to learn how to safely operate. From Terrafugia’s website


Operating a TF-X vehicle should be statistically safer than driving a modern automobile.
TF-X vehicles will be capable of automatically avoiding other air traffic, bad weather, and restricted and tower-controlled airspace.
TF-X will have a backup full-vehicle parachute system that can be activated by the operator in an emergency if the operator believes the TF-X to be incapable of auto-landing.
If a TF-X operator declares an emergency (which will automatically notify authorities of the situation), the TF-X can be landed in non-approved landing zones.
If the operator becomes unresponsive, TF-X would automatically implement an emergency auto-land at the nearest airport.

Learning how to safely operate a TF-X vehicle should take an average driver no more than five hours.
TF-X will give the operator significant freedom in-flight “ controlled in a manner similar to steering a car.
TF-X will be able to fly in either “manual” or “automatic” modes between approved landing zones or airports.

TF-X will carry four people in car-like comfort.
TF-X will have a non-stop flight range of at least 500 miles.
TF-X will fit into a standard construction single car garage.
TF-X will be able to take off vertically from a level clearing of at least 100 ft in diameter.
TF-X will be able to drive on roads and highways “ providing true door-to-door convenience and an automotive level of weather insensitivity.
In order to facilitate the achievement of this new dimension of personal freedom, the TF-X will be priced as low as possible while still allowing Terrafugia to grow to support our customers. The final pricing will not be set until we are much closer to delivery. The biggest price driver is the cost of production. It is likely that TF-X will be more expensive than a “normal car” due to the higher costs of the enabling light-weight materials, but with investment in automotive scale production, early studies indicate that it is possible that the final price point could be on-par with very high-end luxury cars of today. As demand increases, new materials and manufacturing processes will surely be developed and the price may come down further in the distant future.

The vision of TF-X Technical Operations:

TF-X is a fixed-wing street-legal aircraft with electric ground drive and electric power assist on takeoff and landing.
TF-X will be able to recharge its batteries either from its engine or by plugging in to electric car charging stations.
TF-X will be capable of “auto-landing” at approved landing sites within approved weather limits.

Prior to departure, the operator selects a primary target landing zone and backup landing zones. If the TF-X calculates insufficient energy onboard to conduct last-minute aborts at the first two sites and safely navigate to and land at the third within a 30-minute reserve, or if the forecast weather in any of the three landing zones would be outside the allowable limit’s, or if any of the selected landing zones are in temporarily restricted airspace (TFRs), departure will not be allowed until appropriate landing zones are selected.
If manual operation (sightseeing) or changing weather causes the second backup landing zone to fall outside the range of the limits, the operator will be notified and prompted to select new landing zones within the new restrictions.

The TF-X operator will have the final say over whether an approved landing zone is actually a safe place in which to land, and they may abort the landing attempt at any time.

Aborting the third landing at the end of an extended flight would result in the automatic declaration of an emergency and a horizontal (airplane-like) landing at the nearest airport.

Normal TF-X operations will be conducted only in non-tower controlled airspace (Class E and G) and on the ground. Operators who wish to operate in tower-controlled airspace (Class B, C, or D) can get additional training.

Licensed TF-X operators will be allowed to apply to add new landing zones to an approved landing zone database.

TF-X will advise the operator if they are approaching restricted or tower-controlled airspace, or unnecessarily increasing the risk to human life (as could happen through carelessness, bad intentions, or if the operator becomes incapacitated). If the operator does not take the appropriate corrective action, the TF-X vehicle will automatically notify authorities by “declaring an emergency” on behalf of the operator.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.