Feeds

Flying car gets helpful road-kit weight exemption from feds

Terrafugia gets headroom for airbags, crumple zones etc

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.