Remember all those issues of Popular Science that told us we’d be driving flying cars by the year 2000? Sure, the bastards lied to us, but flying cars may soon be a reality thanks to some flexibility from the FAA.
The Terrafugia Transition, pictured above, represents our best hope for a flying car. Until recently, it was just a prototype, uncertified by the FAA for flight. Why? Because in order to meet vehicle safety requirements such as crumple zones, air bags and steel door beams, the Transition was too heavy to be a “light sport aircraft”. In a rare moment of compassion, the FAA granted an exception to the Transition, allowing it into the light sport aircraft classification despite being overweight by 110 pounds.
The Transition has a cargo capacity of 450 pounds, and can fly up to 460 miles at 115 miles per hour. On the ground, it can transition from an aircraft to a motor vehicle in less than 30 seconds and is capable of “highway speeds”. Unlike a light aircraft, which generally gets parked in bad weather, the Transition can be driven to your ultimate destination if the weather turns ugly.
As you’d expect, there are several drawbacks. First, you must possess a valid pilot’s license with a light sport aircraft rating. Don’t have one? Get in touch with a flight school soon, because you’ll need 20 hours of flight time to qualify. Want to fly under low visibility conditions? You’ll need an instrument rating, which takes quite a bit more time and money to earn.
The next obvious drawback is the price. Transition buyers must put down a $10,000 deposit towards the purchase price of $194,000, and delivery of the first production models is expected to begin in 2011. Seventy people have stepped up to the plate so far, so you probably won’t be seeing the skies filled with flying cars any time soon.
Source: Terrafugia Flying Car