The FAA has authorized Terrafugia to operate small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the TF-X configuration for research and development (R&D) purposes. The TF-X is a four-seat, hybrid electric, semi-autonomous, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flying car and is currently in the early stages of development. Extensive sub-scale flight testing of UAS, along with wind tunnel testing and aerodynamic simulation, are key to refining the vehicle’s design.
Specifically, the FAA exemption will allow Terrafugia to test the hovering capabilities of a one-tenth scale vehicle and gather flight characteristics data that will drive future design choices. Because of the unconventional configuration of the vehicle, it is vital to achieve sustained, stabilized hovering with smaller models before developing a full-size prototype.
An exemption from the FAA was necessary in order to conduct commercial R&D work with an UAS, and allows Terrafugia to operate the TF-X scale prototypes in compliance with all airspace and other applicable regulations, up to an altitude of 400ft and at speeds under 100mph.
December 10, 2015
Image credit: Terrafugia / DrivenToFly.com