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Flying cars to be tested, produced at Nashua airport

Union Leader Correspondent

August 05. 2018 9:32AM
Terrafugia Inc., based in Woburn, Mass., is leasing space at the Nashua airport where it will test and produce the Transition, a two-seat auto and aircraft. (COURTESY)

NASHUA — Urban air mobility is about to hit the Gate City as a Massachusetts-based company will start producing its first flying car at the Nashua airport.

Terrafugia Inc., is in the process of leasing aircraft hangar space at 101 Perimeter Road.

“It is enough space for us to do all of our testing for the Transition flying car and to accommodate the first couple of years of production,” said Chris Jaran, CEO of Terrafugia. “As the years move on and we build more aircraft, there is an ability for us to expand there.”

The company’s first flying car, dubbed the Transition, is slated for production in 2019, according to Jaran. The company’s website states that the price of a Transition will be comparable to a high-end luxury automobile.

The Nashua Airport Authority has already granted Terrafugia permission to operate its vehicles at the municipal airport.

“We are in the middle of the legal discussion about the content of the lease, but we should be in there Sept. 1,” he said.

Terrafugia will be building its next flying prototypes and test flying them during the fourth quarter of this year. The company, founded in 2006 by five MIT graduates, is based in Woburn, Mass.

Jaran said Terrafugia’s chief pilot searched all airports within a 50-mile radius of its headquarters, eventually settling on about three. He said the hangar in Nashua had the most available space, and the airport’s management is eager to have them on board.

Terrafugia’s Nashua workforce will start off with about six to 10 employees consisting of mechanics and pilots. Jaran said that number will eventually increase.

He envisions that the Nashua airport will eventually become Terrafugia’s base for maintenance training and pilot training.

“We are rapidly expanding,” said Jaran. One year ago, Terrafugia had 19 staff members, and today it has more than 200.

Terrafugia, based in Woburn, Mass., is leasing space at the Nashua airport to test the Transition, a two-seat car and aircraft with a foldable wingspan. (DENNIS VAN TINE/ABACA PRESS/TNS)

Both road and flight testing are necessary for the flying car, which will utilize both the taxiways and runways while coordinating with flight operations at the Nashua airport, he said. 

“We are really going to be the first flying car to achieve the goal of production. We are looking forward to a bright future in the vertical lift and urban air mobility ­— a very new and very dynamic industry,” said Jaran. 

Terrafugia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. The company recently partnered with China Euro Vehicle Technology AB to bring the first flying car to market.

The Transition, a two-seat auto and aircraft, will drive in hybrid mode using a combination of an internal-combustion engine and a lithium iron phosphate chemistry battery, according to a release. 

“As a unique automotive vehicle and a light sport aircraft, the Transition is built for both aviation and automotive safety to comply with Federal Aviation Administration and National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration standards,” says a release. “The new features will enable the Transition to meet all the necessary requirements while optimizing the flight experience for both pilot and passenger.” 

In addition to the Transition, Terrafugia is starting development of a second, larger product — a flying taxi, according to Jaran. 

“We would need a larger facility for that, but we have already had discussions with some owners of facilities near the Nashua airport,” he said. “But it is a bit early to actually do that.”

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