The ultimate convertible

So, you think your BMW convertible is cool?  You aint seen nothing yet.

Introducing the Terrafugia Transition, the world’s first “roadable aircraft”. Designed and developed by a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduates from the aeronautical engineering department and MIT Sloan School of Management, the Transition is a transportation vehicle that quickly converts from an automobile into an airplane within 30 seconds.

The Transition is beyond just a concept and prototype. It is a commercially viable street legal and airworthy vehicle, certified by both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It can accommodate two passengers and flies at a range of approximately 500 miles. It is powered by a simple 1.3-liter 4-cylinder aircraft engine with a top speed of 115 miles per hour. The Transition only requires a 1,700 foot runway for takeoff and can be parked in an average sized garage.

Operating as a car, the Transition has front wheel drive and a continuous variable transmission. It consumes unleaded fuel like a regular automobile and achieves approximately 27 mpg on the road. When in the air, the Transition achieves slightly better mileage at 30 mpg.

Not everyone can own a Transition immediately, however. It requires a sport pilot certificate to operate (earned after 20 hours of observed flying time) and comes with a hefty price tag of $194,000.

The initial idea behind the development of the Transition was to give private pilots alternatives when faced with rapidly changing weather conditions. Rather than risk an accident flying into bad weather, a pilot could land at a nearby airport and drive the remaining distance to the destination.

The Transition is developed and manufactured by Terrafugia Corporation, a privately held company founded in 2006 and based in Woburn Massachusetts. All founders of the company are MIT engineering and management graduates and are passionate private pilots. More information on Terrafugia Corporation can be found here.

Terrafungia plans to introduce the Transition vehicle to the public sometime in 2011.

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