Twelve (was Nine) Years Later and No Closer To Shipping: Terrafugia Transition’s Continuously Slipping Delivery Date…

Terrafugia ship date slip chartTerrafugia incorporated in May, 2006 and now nine twelve years later in May, 2015 July, 2018, their Transition aircraft remains the same “two years” away from first customer delivery as when they started.  Considering Terrafugia’s history of delivery estimates, prospective customers should probably toss their most recent estimate in the heap along with all of the other missed estimates that they’ve published.

This list of their most prominent public announcements about expected delivery of the first Transition aircraft to a customer shows no progress toward shipment.  It was compiled in hopes of discerning a trend that might indicate whether the company was closing in on a ship date; they’re not converging.  The estimates show quite the opposite; Terrafugia’s statements have stuck to using a date that’s always about two years from today (average 21.0 months, stdev.p 3.7), regardless of when today actually falls.  October, 2008 represented the high point for customers when Terrafugia proclaimed that they were only 15 months away from starting shipments.  On average since then, Terrafugia has pushed their deadline further into the future and assiduously avoided converging on a real ship date.

Terrafugia ship date slippage

Terrafugia Transition’s Estimated Ship Date moves in lock step with the calendar and they appear to be settling in on a delivery “estimate” that’s consistently “24 months in the future”. If Terrafugia were converging on a ship date, then the orange curve should flatten out and the blue one should curve down toward zero as press releases indicated progress toward an actual shipment.

It appears that either Terrafugia employs really poor forecasters, they’re trying to hide something from the public, or maybe it’s just far harder to bring an airplane to market than newly minted college graduates could have imagined?  Their announcements, whatever the motivation, really push the line between optimism and deception.

Update (later May 11, 2015): Only Terrafugia’s press releases indicate they’re making no progress. Their accomplishments do show advancement, just not at the optimistic pace their press releases would have you believe. They’ve certainly learned a lot from the Proof-Of-Concept and first prototype vehicles as well as from their positive FAA and DOT regulatory decisions.  Hopefully their press officer learns from this post too.

Update (July, 2018):  XKCD has gotten onboard by tracking JWST launch date estimates!

Since delays should get less likely closer to the launch, most astronomers in 2018 believed the expansion of the schedule was slowing, but by early 2020 new measurements indicated that it was actually accelerating.

FWIW, the slope for Terrafugia’s first customer ship estimates is 1.12. Ouch!