Terrafugia, the aircraft developer Geely took over, presented a prototype of its all-electric vertical take-off plane TF-2A and says they have undertaken test flights already. Terrafugia has now also provided the first key technical data on the aircraft.
The photos of the TF-2A now published by Geely on a Chinese website show a more refined appearance compared to the study that took off for the first time in December 2019. Both the previous and the current study are relatively small machines. According to Geely, a full-scale prototype is to follow in a short time.
The aircraft makers involved say that they based their design on the appearance of a tiger shark. The eVTOL is characterised by a large upper wing, an H-shaped tail and a rear propeller for horizontal flight as well as eight lift propellers for vertical take-off and landing. Geely hopes that this design will make certification more straightforward to obtain than competing products with multiple rotors or tilt rotors. According to the manufacturer, the TF-2A will have a maximum take-off weight of 1,200 kg and a payload of up to 200 kg. The latter is sufficient for two passengers plus luggage. Geely specifies the maximum cruising speed at 180 kph, the range at 100 kilometres and the maximum flight altitude at 3,000 metres. For safety reasons, the VTOL is equipped with reserve landing gear in case of an emergency landing.
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The aircraft is designed as an air taxi for urban areas, i.e. for air traffic within cities or between neighbouring communities. In addition to the TF-2A, Terrafugia has developed another model called Transition. This is a two-seater with hybrid drive, which has been designed for both road and air travel using foldable wings and, according to the manufacturer’s specifications, can be changed from driving to its flying mode in less than a minute.
The US company Terrafugia has been part of the Geely Group since 2017. The urban aircraft specialist was founded in 2006 by graduates of MIT. Following the acquisition of the company, the Chinese group has established a research and development team in China that focuses on urban air mobility.
Other air taxis are also moving ahead in a much-anticipated urban air-taxi market. Although it remains to be seen how affordable air-taxis will be and how many of them will be usable in dense urban landscapes, several companies are edging forward with the development of such aircraft. In February this year, Wisk has received approval to test eVTOL flights with passengers in New Zealand. At the same time, Geely is well-positioned early on after having taken over Terrafugia back in 2017 and recently acquired shares in Volocopter.
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