WOBURN, Mass. — The FAA has authorized Terrafugia to operate small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) in the TF-X configuration for research and development (R&D) purposes.
The TF-X, Terrafugia’s vision for the future of personal transportation, is a four-seat, hybrid electric, semi-autonomous, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flying car. As the TF-X program is currently in the early stages of development, extensive sub-scale flight testing of sUAS, along with wind tunnel testing and aerodynamic simulation, are key to refining the vehicle’s design, according to company officials.
The FAA exemption will allow Terrafugia to test the hovering capabilities of a one-tenth scale TF-X vehicle and gather flight characteristics data that will drive future design choices, officials explained.
“Because of the unconventional configuration of the TF-X, it is vital to achieve sustained, stabilized hovering with smaller models before developing a full-size TF-X prototype,” officials said in a prepared release.
An exemption from the FAA was necessary to conduct commercial R&D work with an sUAS, and allows Terrafugia to operate the TF-X scale prototypes in compliance with all airspace and other applicable regulations, up to an altitude of 400 feet and at speeds under 100 mph.
Terrafugia engineers are building the TF-X sUAS and preparing the detailed test plans that will be used for their operation.
This computer-generated animation illustrates Terrafugia’s vision for the future of personal transportation: The TF-X.