Terrafugia: Transition street-legal plane slightly behind schedule

Carl Dietrich, CEO and CTO of Terrafugia, says the company's street-legal airplane, called the Transition, will begin flight testing in March 2012, with first delivery in late 2012. A non-flying version will be on exhibit at EAA AirVenture.

Carl Dietrich, CEO and CTO of Terrafugia (Woburn, Mass., USA), on June 10 issued an update on the status of his company's development of the composites-intensive Transition street-legal aircraft.

Dietrich notes that since June 2010, Terrafugia has grown from 12 employees to 24 and has moved into a new 19,000-ft2/1,765m2 manufacturing facility, which enabled the construction of a full set of production tools. In addition to the fabrication of prototype production molds and jigs, the team has invested in internal processes and procedures for the fabrication of the Transition, which Terrafugia expects will give the company a significant advantage as it moves through the process of bringing the Transition to full compliance with applicable ASTM Light Sport Aircraft and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Dietrich says, however, the Terrafugia is not as far along as it had hoped to be a year ago. He says the company has encountered several challenges that are common in aircraft development programs, including problems with third party suppliers. It remains Terrafugia's goal to show one of the two production prototypes at the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wis., USA in July, but the vehicle will not be ready to fly at the show.

This is similar to the stage that the Proof of Concept (POC) vehicle was in at Oshkosh 2008 (i.e., mostly complete but untested). Extrapolating from the company's experience with the POC, Dietrich says the first test flights would be expected in March 2012. "To appropriately set expectations and adjust our scheduling margins based on recent experience with suppliers and other key third party contributors, we feel it is necessary to extend our anticipated first delivery date to late 2012," he says.