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An Assessment of the Terrafugia Flying Car: Its Problems, Possibilities and Prospects

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An Assessment of the Terrafugia Flying car: its Problems, Possibilities and Prospects

An Extended Essay Presented to
Mr. Edward Jay M. Quinto
Mapua Institute of Technology

In partial fulfilment
Of the requirements in
English for Acadamic Purposes 2

Deina Nicole C. Fernandez
Joseph Christian M. Flordeliza
Anne Rose O. Galera

December 2013

This extended essay would not have been made possible without the help of Mr. Edward Jay M. Quinto, who was our guide and inspiration in the making of this paper; the researchers family and friends, who have supported the researchers in their time of need; Mr. Sherwin Magon, who provided us with invaluable information regarding the Transition; the Directory of Open Access Journals, who gave the researchers references to complete the research paper; and the almighty father, who gave the researchers strength to battle through the tough times the researchers encountered during the process of creating this research paper

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today, Transportation has become one of our daily needs. With the introduction of Terrafugia’s flying car: the Transition, this necessity would become less of a problem in our day-to-day lives. This research aimed to discover the problems, prospects and possibilities that the Transition will bring. The researchers used a qualitative method of research using library research. The researchers also Interviewed Engr. Sherwin Magon to have a broader understanding on the concept of flying cars. the Transition is a light sport aircraft approved by the National Aviation Society. It has problems with its mass production which can be solved by nationalizing materials used in its construction and establishing a partner relationship with the suppliers of the raw materials. When the manufacturers overcomes these challenges, the only problem would be advertising the Transition. The researchers believes that the A class society would be more likely to buy the Transition, therefore the Transition should be advertised to these groups of people. A significant improvement on road traffic will occur when the Transition launches successfully. The researchers recommend further studies upon future traffic laws that would come to the arrival of the Transition, landing and take-off areas designed specifically for the Transition and the dangers that will come with the Transition’s arrival.
Keywords: Terrafugia, Transition, flying car, new technology

From our first kindle of flame to Japan’s Bullet Train, We Humans have constantly been finding ways to improve our quality of living. We have always been able to find solutions for our everyday survival. In this day and age, survival isn’t about eluding savage beasts and staying warm on freezing nights. We survive from the daily stress of our work. One of these stresses—“How to get to my destination on time?” can now be solved with the arrival of Terrafugia’s flying car: The Transition. This flying car is more than science fiction, it exists in our realm—ready for take-off
The Transition has been in development since 2006 and was able to have its first test flight in 2009. Being a light sport aircraft—it has met the standards made by the National Aviation Authority in the United States (Pew, Glenn 29 June 2012) but it has received exemptions from the Federal Aviation Administration to have a take-off weight 100lbs more than the standard take-off weight Safety features in cars like airbags, protective safety cages and crumple zones can be are added to the Transition because it also spends time on the road, that’s where the extra 100 lbs goes. With a push of a button, the transition can extend its wings electromechanically and redirect its power to its propeller, it takes 30 seconds for the entire process to finish. It has a seating capacity of two, one pilot and one passenger, and can go up to 70km/h on land in normal traffic and 185 km/h on air. It can be used in any public use airfield with at least 518 meters of runway. Originally, the release date for the Transition was on 2011 but it was pushed back to 2015 (Mone, Gregory 20010). Only a hundred Transitions worth $25 million have been reserved so far, but Terrafugia hopes to begin its delivery with a starting price of 279.000
This research will benefit the marketers of the Transition, the manufacturers of transition and the government officials who would make the traffic laws concerning the arrival of the Transition
This research paper’s objective is to know the problems, prospects and possibilities that the Transition will bring,
Specificlly, this research aspires to answer these questions:
1. What is the Technology behind the Terrafugia flying car?
2. What are the problems that the manufactures face?
3. How could the problem be addressed?
4. If these challenges are overcome, how could the flying car impact the transportation in the world?
If the Terrafugia overcomes the problems facing its mass production and commercialization, then global transportation will be significantly improved

The Terrafugia fying car’s technology
In the past 50 years, personal transportation has been constantly improving. Nevertheless, even with all the improvements to our transportation system, transportation can still be cumbersome due to the overabundance of vehicles in the streets. In fact in the United States, $87 to $125 billion are wasted annually due to traffic jams. With the introduction of the Terrafugia flying car: The Transition, the researchers believe that these problems can now be solved

The Transition is a light-sport aircraft, therefore its weight and performance must be limited. In regulation to the National Aviation Authority of the United States. Glass cockpit avionics along with carbon fiber constructions are built into the Transition which smoothens the process of conversion from plane to car. It is built with the steering wheel and pedals in the same places where you’d find them on your car with an additional rudder pedal for flight control. The Transition is a road-legal aircraft that changes between flying and driving modes. The vehicle can carry two passengers and it has a good compartment for the loads. It has foldable wings that measures 8 meters when extended, but the best thing is it can fit in a normal parking space in a house. This “roadable aircraft” can run up to the range of 65-70 miles per hour on road and can fly 107 miles per hour depending on the gas that occupies the tank. It consumes either a premium unleaded gasoline or an aviation gasoline. This flying car comes with an airframe parachute and an optional autopilot.
The Transition and its full contents was shown to the public earlier this year in an air show held by EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. People were amazed since it passed the safety standards of the possible consumers. Terrafugia plas to release the Transition sometime in 2015 or 2016,. This fact only proved that after years of waiting, the product was constructing development and it has never been stagnant in its production.
The problems of the Transition’s manufacturers Terrafugia: a private company known as the only automobile producer in Massachusetts. They came up with the idea of making a “roadable aircraft” which they named the Transition. Since 2006, they’ve been improving and re-modeling it to meet the safety standards, both in land and sky, until they finally introduced it to the public early this year. Despite the fact that the Transition can dominate the world of transportation, faces several conflicts that affected the manufacturers and its production. In seven years of advertising it to the public, the financiers and some private people who put a down payment for the Transition had accumulated $10 million dollars to support the creation. A single flying car can consume for about $280,000 dollars for it to be able to drive and fly. The Terrafugia found it hard to collect that quantity of money. The company waited seven years to convince people that it will work. The price tag of a Transition “roadable aircraft” was about half a million dollars. There were assumed amounts that were being questioned because of it being too high. Many criticizers found it highly expensive and thought that it wasn’t worth the purchase. The thought of buying a brand new sports car and avail the services of an airline also came up. The main idea of a “roadable flying car” was far from this thought and that’s the challenge that needed to be resolved by advertising the product effectively to the market. Placing the Transition car in the market was a high risk for the manufacturers because they cannot assume that it will be a prolific one. There are no companies that would want to be a topic material because a failure in their creation. After the public heard about the high price tag, they didn’t consider buying a Transition. There was a big competition in some well-known car and plane producers because each of them offered more accessibility to the consumers. Thinking about making it more affordable to the public, at the same time not putting the consumers into danger, became a good start. Advertising the “roadable aircraft” that led a feeling of need to the consumers became effective, for it already gained a big number of people to buy one, also considering the attention given to the Transition when it first held its flight and show off its insides. In the process of producing the flying car, it naturally faced a lot of problems.
The Terrafugia Flying car: The Transition didn’t become successful without the problems of its own. Its manufacturers have yet found a way to successfully mass produce the light sport aircraft. Yes, they have already produced a few cars, but manufacturing does not end at production. It involved the customer, the factory and the consumer. Industrial companies considered manufacturing as their heart of operation, and studies have already proven that it was important for the social and economic growth of a company (Molahamdi& Ismail 2013). With that in mind, the researchers wanted to know if the Transition could be developed sustainably. Sustainable development is defined as “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, and “the level of human consumption and activity, which can continue into the foreseeable future, so that the systems providing goods and services to the humans, persists indefinitely” (Molahamdi& Ismail 2013). With a price tag of $279,000 per plane, the researchers wondered if the flying car could ever be mass produced in great numbers.
Cost reduction and increasing flexibility are the priorities of mass production according to n an interview with Brazilian production managers (Garvin 1993). In order to reduce the cost of production, the Brazilian production managers began nationalizing the parts used in the production of the automobile (Vanalle, Salles, et al, 2009). Nationalizing happens when a product previously owned by a private company is given an ownership to the government (Nove, Alexander. 1991). The costs of stocks and logistics used for automobile components were progressively reduced when nationalized supplies were used. Nevertheless, with a reduction of cost of materials, quality must not be sacrificed.
A company’s main objective should be the quality of their product. Furthermore, achieving the highest possible quality relies on an assembler’s partner relationship with its suppliers (Vanalle, Salles, et al, 2009). In a research by Vanalle and Salles (2009), only 2% of products were rejected and the number of rejected products kept decreasing until returned products were no longer a priority objective for the manufacturers. This happened because the supplier supported the implantation of quality in the assembler’s production. With this information in mind, the researchers believed that if the Terrafugia nationalized the parts of the Transition, Terrafugia decreased the cost of production for each Transition which would then lower its price tag, and by having a partner relationship with an automotive supplier—Terrafugia will not have to worry about risking quality in exchange for a decrease in the cost of production for each Transition.
Another problem that the Transition faced was the constant delay on its release date. It was originally planned to be released back in 2011, but on June 2011, it was pushed back to late 2012 to give way for more test drives and further improvements. Back in 2012, the Transition completed the six phases of test flight that proved a need for another modification for the Transition which made another delay in its production. As stated earlier, If Terrafugia could establish partner relationship with an automotive supplier—Terrafugia wouldn’t have to worry about creating new prototypes because the standards of quality weren’t met.

Advertising the Transition
After finding possible solutions to these current problems—the researchers now looked for a way to advertise the Transition to its target audience: The A class society. The researchers knew from the get-go that the Transition was not made for the general public. The cost of new technology is often too expensive for the mass, take lab-grown meat for example, a new technology which costs $332.00. The researchers believe that the case of lab-grown meat would be the same for the Transition, nevertheless this wouldn’t stop people from purchasing a Transition for their own.
Advertisement is the business of persuasion. With that in mind the researchers wanted to know what kind of advertisement would work for the A class society. Being able to persuade an audience into purchasing a product as well as maintaining the patronage of the consumer is the heart of advertisement (Kenechukwu,Ezekiel, et al 2013). An advertiser for the Transition would want to be able to make sure that a prospect customer will believe that purchasing the Transition would be the right decision to make. By mirroring the culture and society of the A-class society—the advertiser can achieve that effect. (Kenechukwu,Ezekiel, et al 2013). The Brand equity of Terrafugia would then be created when the advertisement takes place—it would be a niche that certain kinds of people buy the Transition. This would create sales as members of the A-class society would believe that they would be left behind if they don’t own a Transition. The transition would come cultural norm for the members of the A-class society as more and more of the A-class society purchases a Transition. This effect is called the language of persuation in advertising where a consumer is induced into taking a desired action (Kenechukwu,Ezekiel, et al 2013).. This is how an advertiser would be able to lure in members of the A-class society—by using their ideas, beliefs, values and attitudes to lead the members of the A-class society into doing their desired action and making the members believe they are realising their ultimate reward(Kenechukwu,Ezekiel, et al (2013).
The Impact of the Transition The Transition was founded in 2006. The team has strived to bring it to reality. It offered a great difference to our present era (Goessl 2013). The Transition had undergone a test flight so the people have seen it for the first time. Before, a “flying car” only existed in fantasies, but now, it already exists in the reality. The researchers would like to state the impacts of the Transition in the further paragraphs.
The test flight was successful. A lot of people validated the test flight from a field next to highway to observe the short take-off and landing strengths of a gyrocopter. It showed that it can actually land and take-off within just a few meters. It was only proposed for use of emergency services such as police and traffic forces, but not for everyday use. It can be still used legally when people be having a driver’s license and a flight license. The 200 meter landing field was laid down in a wet Dutch field which was only temporary has much more space compared to the test model needed. For it to prevent any overheard wires and bridges, it should fly a minimum of 1,500 meters high and should reach top speeds of 200km an hour. The Dutch government granted the Pal-V company to build its first model and expected in starting to commercialize the Transition within 3 years. From the parking lot, its gyrocopter have folded beyond the roof of the carver and have engaged to lift the short take-off and landing machine. Installed 65 small ‘gyro-pads’ next to all the major Dutch highways was the plan, where the flying cars were only proposed for emergency vehicles, could have landed and take-off. Any problems in getting the rules for road and air traffic weren’t expected by the Pal-V in adjusting the Transition. The flying car was not intended to solve the problems with road congestion; it’s intended only for use by emergency services as an alternative to the helicopter (Van De Wiel 2012). People can’t use this without the pilot’s license even if the only intention is to fly 1,500 meters above traffic, it was still an aircraft accompanied by air traffic laws. In Australia, which is a wide-open country by the farmers and ranchers, gyrocopters were far-reaching and boundless (Stuijt 2009). The Transition became successful because it showed the durability and airborne properties of new materials. Only one propeller was installed in the Transition. The sparse layout was to supply the pilot’s basic cognitive process rather than memorizing the controls. Instead of using basic automotive safety glass, poly-carbonate materials was used in the Transition windshield which was allowed by the NHTSA. It was not designed like an ordinary car that can be used every day, although it used up super unleaded gas from the local stations, it can fit into a typical garage and it easily transmuted from plane to auto in half a minute. Dietrich thought that the demand will grow if the Transition will have lots of small airports all over the country but it needed a runway. Only 20 hours of airtime is needed to get the license for the Transition. They also need to pass the 4 simple practical test in the aircraft (Phalle Jr. 2012). The Transition was really successful despite its high technology. Pilots can just easily fold up the wings of the car and drive so airport delays and bad weather were no longer a problem. The success of the Transition could have been predicted wholly on whether the routine on getting a pilot’s license was the same routine as the driver’s license. The Transition and the manufacturer were the only authoritative to provide assistance and renovations of the craft’s Rotax 912ULS engine at locations that would have been compulsive closer to the Transition’s launching. More Transitions in the air could have mean fewer road traffic in the long journey that could have been better for air lineament. Carbon monoxide scattered better at higher altitudes because there was more wind. Still, a plane released approximately twice the carbon monoxide of a car, so it wasn’t precisely carbon-neutral (Butterman 2011).

The researchers aimed to analyze the problems, possibilities and prospects of the Transition. The researchers intended to single out the Transition’s areas of vulnerability and find possible solutions to these predicaments.
Based upon gathered data, the researchers found that The Transition is considered as a light sport aircraft with limitations on weight and performance. It has problems with mass production due to high material costs. Nevertheless the researchers found that problems with mass production can be fixed by nationalizing raw materials used in production and forming but this process might decrease the quality of the product. Therefore to ensure the quality of the product, the Transition’s assemblers must establish a partner relationship with their suppliers. Advertisement would be the next step in solving the problems of the transition. The researchers believe that it is more likely for people from the A-class society to purchase a Transition because new technology will always be expensive. The researcher found that by mirroring the culture and behaviors of the A-class society, Terrafugia will be able to successfully persuade said people to purchase the Transition. When the Transition overcomes these challenges, road traffic would significantly decrease.
The researchers therefore conclude the arrival of the Transition is inevitable—even with all of the problems delaying it. Furthermore, when this technology ages—it will become more affordable and popular for the common folk. The researchers believe that there will be an abundance of flying cars in the near future.
To the future researchers, the researchers recommend to find our proposals for the new air traffic laws that would come with the Transitions arrival, landing and take-off areas for the Transition and the possible dangers that the Transition would bring.

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