Flying cars coming to Nashua Airport

NASHUA – Once only a futuristic fantasy on the classic cartoon, The Jetsons, flying cars are a present-day reality on their way to the Nashua Airport.

Woburn, Massachusetts-based Terrafugia plans to lease space at the airport to test what company officials call the world’s first practical flying car. Five award-winning Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduates founded the firm in 2006.

“Their plan is to be here in September, and I’m sure as soon as they get here and get settled in, they will start testing immediately,” airport Manager Chris Lynch said.

Håkan Apell, director of Business Development and Marketing for the company, said Terrafugia was looking for the right spot to grow their business and wanted to have a partnership with an airport that was close to its headquarters. After reviewing other airports in the area, they selected the Nashua Airport to proceed with this partnership and bring the Transition to the Gate City for testing.

“This is a long-term contract. It’s a partnership, and we will bring the Transition there and perhaps, also, we could expand the business further,” Apell said.

The Transition is one vehicle with two modes of travel. It is a two-seat roadable light sport aircraft, featuring wings that fold and unfold, allowing for people to fly or drive. It is also the only aircraft that incorporates the required safety features for both automobiles and airplanes, company officials said.

The vehicle runs on 91 octane automotive fuel and can hold up to 20 gallons, while burning five gallons per hour. It also has a max range of 400 miles with top speeds of up to 100 mph.

“Developing this new technology has allowed us to test several different mechanisms and generate process improvements along the way. We are at the critical point where we can implement the best design features based on years of flight and drive testing. This will improve function, safety and aesthetics for the optimal flying and driving experience,” Terrafugia CEO Chris Jaran said in a statement.

Apell said through the years, Terrafugia has been able to develop their first Transition vehicle, but that their development has come with some great speed since they were acquired by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in November. He said just one year ago, Terrafugia only employed 20 people. Not the number is more than 200.

The company also recently partnered with China Euro Vehicle Technology AB with the ambition of bringing the first production vehicles to the market in 2019.

“So, now we’re ramping up and hiring a lot of new resources,” Apell said.

He the price has not yet been defined, and will be announced soon.

“We will have more flying vehicles in the future,” Apell said. “We will have the TF-3 and the TF-4 and we will be a product producer of flying vehicles as they are developing. We also have some pretty great plans for the future that we have been discussing together with our owner, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. We are entering a very exciting future with the whole company in terms of jobs, that’s for sure.”

Lynch said officials have been talking about this partnership for about a year. He said Terrafugia will be leasing a building for aircraft hanger space at 101 Perimeter Road. He said the company will be doing flight and ground testing of their Transition model, as well as their future models which are in the development process.

“I think this is great – this is huge,” Lynch said. “This is going to bring worldwide recognition to the Nashua Airport, as well.”

Development for the next generation concept, the TF-2, is already underway at their new research and development facility, just north of San Francisco. Apell said that vehicle will be more like an “airplane taxi.”

“It’s not just an aircraft – it’s also a seamless transportation system,” Apell said

It will feature a detachable pod configuration for passengers or cargo, as well capacity for four passengers and luggage. More information can be found online at, www.terrafugia.com.

“We are very much looking forward to the partnership with Nashua Airport, and we have more plans and ideas we will be announcing at a later date,” Apell said.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.

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