The FAA's granted the Terrafugia Transition roadable airplane the exemption it needs to bring us closer to our dream of flying cars.
The Terrafugia's been the best hope for a flying car since it made its maiden voyage last March. The vehicle is a two-seater plane powered by regular unleaded gas from your corner Shell station. When flown, the front propeller allows the Transition to travel at a speed of approximately 115 mph for a range of around 450 miles.
According to Terrafugia, the plane can then be transitioned from aircraft into roadgoing vehicle in just 30 seconds with the same fuel source powering the front wheels of the aircraft. It can hit a speed of around 65 mph on the road and returns fuel economy of around 30 mpg.
One problem the company needed to work out was the weight classification. Terrafugia wanted the plane to be classified as a "Light Sport Aircraft" so owners would only need 20 hours of flying time in order to operate the aircraft. But to make the car roadable and pass safety standards, it needed the extra weight of crumple zones and safety equipment.
The FAA just granted an exemption for the extra 110 pounds and the Terrafugia's therefore certified to fly and be sold so long as it notifies the owners of the weight difference.
There are still a few stages to go on this journey, including crash testing and the release of a production prototype this summer. Still, we're told to expect first deliveries in the fourth-quarter of 2011. The price is $194,000 with a $10,000 deposit held in escrow should the company declare bankruptcy. (Hat tip to Goatrope and Jay!)
[The Register via The Telegraph]