The FAA has approved an exemption, classifying the Terrafugia Transition as a “light sport aircraft”. This means one only needs twenty hours of flight training to pilot the new flying car. The Boston-based company is now taking orders with a price tag of $194,000 to be the first on your block with a flying car.
Actually, the vehicle is more aptly described as a “road-able” airplane. Powered by a 100 horsepower gasoline engine, the two-seat aircraft can fly 460 miles at a cruising speed of 115mph. When on the ground, the wings are folded and the ‘car’ has a top speed of 30mph.
Similar to earlier designs, like the AeroCar, the Transition will still require a runway to take off. The vehicle is light-weight, though did require the FAA exemption as it is about 110 pounds heavier than the legal limit for “light sport aircraft”. Options available include a large parachute capable of bringing the entire machine down gently in the event of an emergency.
Over the years, many companies and experimenters have been trying to tackle the problem of a flying car. Probably the most famous being the Moller SkyCar, a vehicle which would be capable of vertical take-offs and landings. Advances in computers and other avionic instruments will one day lead to such a vehicle that the average person can operate, merely by telling the flying car where you want to go.
But, until then, vehicles such as the Terrafugia Transition is the next best thing. While still requiring some flight training for a license to fly, the FAA’s approval of the weight exemption does open the door for many to take to the skies. Delivering of the first production models are expected next year though nearly 100 people have already placed a $10,000 deposit for their advanced orders.