Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Terrafugia Transition, a flying car that converts from automobile to airplane, receives FAA approval

The Terrafugia flying car received FAA approval this week.
Courtesy Terrafugia
The Terrafugia flying car received FAA approval this week.
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It’s a car, it’s a plane…it’s both?

The Terrafugia Transition, a light aircraft that can convert into an automobile, will soon go into production, according to Britain’s Telegraph.

The vehicle received a unique exemption from the U.S. government, which allows the production models to be 110 pounds heavier than a normal “light sport aircraft.”

Manufacturers could not fit in safety features, like airbags and crumple zones, within the 1,320 pound weight limit.

The exemption will make it easier and cheaper to get a license--A U.S. light sport pilot’s permit only requires 20 hours of flying time.

The two-seater vehicle uses its front-wheel drive on roads at ordinary highway speeds. But once it arrives at an adequate take off spot, it can extend its wings, take off and glide through the sky at 115 mph.

The vehicle can go 460 miles and carry 450 pounds, but requires a runway that is at least a third of a mile long. It fits into a standard-sized garage.

The Transition has undergone development by startup firm Terrafugia, which was founded by MIT engineers in 2006.

According to the company, 70 people have order the Transition and have left a $10,000 deposit per vehicle. It is expected to retail for $194,000 and be delivered by the end of next year.

Terrafugia said one of the major perks of the Transition is that it can drive home if the vehicle is flying and encounters bad weather.