Feeds

Flying car gets helpful road-kit weight exemption from feds

Terrafugia gets headroom for airbags, crumple zones etc

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The Terrafugia Transition, closest thing to a flying car yet built, has received a unique exemption from the US government allowing production models to be 110 pounds heavier than a normal "light sport aircraft". This will permit the car/plane combo to satisfy safety requirements when driving on roads.

The Terrafugia Transition flies

Now with airbags.

The Transition has been under development by startup firm Terrafugia, founded by flying-enthusiast MIT engineers, since 2006. It is basically a normal light single-engined plane with folding wings and a more substantial, four-wheeled undercarriage.

With wings folded a Transition can be driven on roads at normal highway speeds. On reaching an airport - or a suitable bit of private land, with the owner's permission - it can extend the wings and make a normal rolling takeoff to cruise the skies at 115mph.

On landing, the usual hassles with finding hangar or tiedown space and getting a cab or hire car onward to one's destination don't apply. The Transition simply drives out of the aerodrome gate and parks wherever it's going - fitting in a standard size garage if one is available.

If bad weather should close in before the return journey - a constant worry for private pilots who don't possess instrument ratings - no matter. The Transition can simply drive home.

Handily, the 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.

However it seems that in fact it was proving very difficult to fit mandatory road-safety features such as crumple zones, airbags and a structural cage around the passenger compartment into the 1320lb weight limit. Sportingly, the FAA have now agreed that the Transition, uniquely, can have another 110lb of leeway and still count as a light-sport plane.

Terrafugia originally planned to commence deliveries of production aircraft last year, but in the event got only as far as test flights of a "proof of concept" prototype. This was mothballed after 28 flights, however, and the firm then said it would build a "beta prototype" which it now refers to as the "production prototype". Graphics of this - though not an actual airframe - are to be revealed at this summer's OshKosh air show.

The company hopes now to commence customer deliveries in "Q4 2011", and says that more than 70 aircraft have been ordered. The deposits are held in escrow, and thus will be refunded even if Terrafugia should go out of business or suffer some other disaster. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?
How surgery might be making cancer prognoses worse
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?