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News: Transition Moves to China

Terrafugia pulls U.S. plug on flying car

Terrafugia abruptly pulled the U.S. plug in February for the two-person Transition, an FAA-approved light sport aircraft with folding wings.
Preflight News

Some “80 to 100 employees at the company’s headquarters” in Woburn, Massachusetts, were let go, according to Forbes magazine, and “Terrafugia’s intellectual property and further development of the Transition…are being moved to China by owner Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.”

The company was founded by Carl and Anna Dietrich in 2006 with a group of fellow Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates as the first practical flying car since Moulton Taylor’s Aerocar of the 1950s. AOPA previously reported that Geely Holding completed the Terrafugia acquisition in 2017 in an effort to expand Geely’s growing portfolio of personal transportation companies.

The latest setback for the Transition flying car occurred just a few weeks after the FAA granted a special LSA airworthiness certificate for the twin-boom, pusher-propeller design. The measure allowed the company to produce the flying four-wheeled craft for aviation purposes in the United States, although it was still awaiting federal approval to drive on public roadways.

The pathway to the sky was not a direct route, and the Terrafugia Transition needed regulatory help along the way. AOPA supported the company’s bid for an FAA exemption granted in 2016 that allowed the Transition to fly as an LSA at a gross weight significantly above the 1,320 pounds otherwise allowed. The exception accommodated the heft of the folding wing mechanism and additional safety equipment required for new road vehicles.

A Rotax 912iS Sport fuel-injected engine propels the Transition through the air at 100 mph; Dynon SkyView avionics provide flight deck familiarity; and an airframe parachute rounds out the aviation safety package. NBC reported a projected price of around $400,000 in 2018.

Car-like features include four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes, a circular steering wheel/yoke mechanism, and folding wings that allow the aircraft to tuck into a one-car garage.

Learjet ends production

By Thomas A. Horne

Production of the Learjet—an iconic name and an iconic airplane—will come to an end in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to current owner Bombardier Inc. That’s when the last of the most recent model, the Learjet 75, will leave the Learjet manufacturing facility at Wichita’s Dwight D. Eisenhower Airport. The original Lear Jet design was the first purpose-built, personal business jet. Flamboyant inventor, engineer, and visionary William P. “Bill” Lear came up with the idea of a high-performance, personal-sized twinjet in 1962, when he used a Swiss fighter—the P–16—as the inspiration for the first Lear Jets. The P–16’s wing and tip tank designs were adopted with few changes. Together with the sleek nose; T-tail; and racy, low-slung fuselage, the then-new Lear Jet models 23, 24, and 25 immediately captured both imaginations and market share. It was the airplane of choice for rock stars, glitterati, and other arrivistes.

AOPA ePublishing staff

AOPA ePublishing Staff editors are experienced pilots, flight instructors, and aircraft owners who have a passion for bringing you the latest news and AOPA announcements.

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