The Little Flying Car That Could… Get FAA Approval
It’s a car… It’s a plane… It’s a car-plane. Last March, we described the maiden flight of Terrafugia’s new flying, driving machine, called the Transition. Now we’re one step closer to a Jetson’s reality: the Transition has just received FAA approval as a “light sport aircraft.”
Approval was not guaranteed, since the little guy is a bit husky, weighing more than the FAA’s “light sport aircraft” limit. As The Register reports, Terrafugia wanted to keep the plane in this classification to keep the vehicle available to more drivers/pilots.
[T]he plane-car was originally designed to fit within a weight limit of 1320 lb, meaning that it could qualify as a “light sport” aircraft. A US light sport pilot’s licence is significantly easier and cheaper to get than a normal private ticket, requiring only 20 hours logged, and red tape is lessened. [The Register]
But giving Transition road-worthy safety gear (like an air bag) meant adding on the pounds. The FAA has said that they’re willing to let a little extra weight slide, allowing the Transition a 110-pounds worth of stretching room.
The vehicle can travel at 115 mph in the air and requires 1,700 feet to take off. When it folds up its wings (which it can do electronically), it can snuggle into a garage or a gas station. Though it does seem an exciting commuting option, Terafugia designed the Transition with pilots in mind, giving them the option to land and drive when flying conditions are too rough.
The two-seater Transition can use its front-wheel drive on roads at ordinary highway speeds, with wings folded, at a respectable 30 miles per gallon. Once it has arrived at a suitable take-off spot–an airport, or adequately sized piece of flat private land–it can fold down the wings, engage its rear-facing propellor, and take off. [The Telegraph]
So far, Terrafugia says 70 futuristic folks have pre-ordered the car, paying a refundable $10,000 deposit. The total price tag is $194,000.