Thursday, March 17, 2011

Roadable plane, flying car, whatever

I'm sorry but I just don't get the Transition roadable aircraft from Terrafugia. Sure, it's an interesting aeronautical engineering concept and so far it seems to do what it was designed to do, but I'm afraid I don't see the mission it's trying to satisfy. That could be a problem because I ought to be in the target demographic - pilot, some disposable income (no kids), frequent traveler for work and pleasure, etc. - assuming they want to start selling them at some point.

I was out for a bike ride earlier and I started thinking about the likely mission parameters of a roadable plane. (I do all my best thinking once I'm hypoxic.) Now, it's not particularly surprising to find that when designers set out to merge two highly disparate objectives they often end up compromising so far that neither mission is satisfied. The V-22 Osprey, the Porsche Panamera ("I wanted a 911 Carrera 4S but the wife insisted on a family car"), there are plenty of examples where compromise seems to have produced what we might politely term "thought-provoking" vehicles. Might the Transition be headed this way?