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Flying Car Flies In 2011

LOWELL, Mass., January 12, 2010 – Terrafugia, the creators of the revolutionary Transition Roadable Aircraft, is set to fly in 2011.

After Terrafugia completed a successful Proof of Concept for the first version of its Transition Roadable Aircraft in early June, the design team began planning the vehicle’s second iteration.

Having spent several years developing the initial Transition prototype, Terrafugia identified multiple ways in which they wanted to adjust the original design, including experimenting with alternate materials and sizing for the wings.

The Transition Roadable Aircraft can cruise up to 450 miles at 115+ mph, take off and land at local airports, drive at highway speeds on any road and fit in a normal suburban garage space.

The two-seat vehicle has front wheel drive on the road and a propeller for flight, transforming from plane to car in thirty seconds. Both modes are powered by unleaded automobile gasoline. By giving pilots a convenient ground transportation option, the Transition reduces the cost, inconvenience and weather sensitivity of personal aviation.

In order to analyze the way different materials would bend or move under various conditions, the company required a solution with advanced 3D composite ply-modeling, dedicated part-modeling and material behavior simulation capabilities.

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Terrafugia is using Dassault Systèmes’ (DS) CATIA brand for 3D composite and finite-element modeling on the aircraft, specifically CATIA Analysis and CATIA Composites Design (CPD) solutions to design and develop its beta prototype.

RAND North America, a Dassault Systèmes PLM solutions reseller, recommended that Terrafugia adopt CATIA for its composite modeling needs.

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RAND chose CATIA’s composite solutions for their exacting technical features, which would help Terrafugia correct problems like wrinkles and bridges in the very first stages of design by visualizing ply characteristics and fiber behavior.

They also emphasized CATIA’s value as an independent finite-element analysis (FEA) tool, thereby eliminating the need for a separate FEA investment. 

Impressed by its success with Dassault Systemes’ SolidWorks 3D design suite, which it began using in March 2009, Terrafugia enthusiastically adopted CATIA Analysis and CATIA CPD as composite-focused complements to its existing SolidWorks infrastructure. 


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“CATIA is a great complement to our SolidWorks solution,” says Ben Zelnick, engineer at Terrafugia. “Being able to have a full digital model of a ply-by-ply layout will allow us to conduct accurate structural analyses, which is invaluable in reducing the weight of the Transition. In fact, we recently correlated an analysis of a CATIA model of a portion of the structure closely to a sample tested in our facility.”

“We are pleased that DS SolidWorks’ design-centric customers can now benefit from CATIA’s leading composites virtual design and analysis applications to successfully meet their composites needs,” says Jacques Leveillé-Nizerolle, CEO, CATIA, Dassault Systèmes. “This will complement CATIA’s full PLM strategy which is based on delivering a complete end-to-end PLM composites solution on a single platform, from design to simulation and manufacturing.”

For the upcoming second prototype, Terrafugia’s design team is using CATIA Analysis to create preliminary design simulations rapidly, easily and within a familiar CAD environment. The solution allows the team to optimize its designs based on product performance specifications and to quickly make updates after real-world testing. Moreover, the company is using CATIA CPD to build and test reinforcement spars on the prototype’s structural panels. CATIA CPD gives Terrafugia the ability to verify whether it can feasibly produce what is designed and the ability to perform simulation directly in the same environment.

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