Flying car 'Transition' gets road approval from NHTSA

Jul 07, 2011 by Bob Yirka report

(PhysOrg.com) -- Terrafugia’s car/plane vehicle called the Transition, has received approval from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) clearing the way for delivery to customers sometime next year. Last year it received approval to fly as a “light sport aircraft” from the Federal Aviation Administration, but not before being given a special exemption to fly 110 pounds heavier than other’s in its class. This time around it had to convince the NHTSA to allow a special exemption for its Plexiglas windows and aircraft landing capable tires.

The Transition is able to move between the sky and road by making use of push-button retractable wings that narrow the plane enough to allow it to fit on standard roads. In its current configuration, the Transition is 19 feet 9 inches long with a wingspan of 26 feet 6 inches wide and has a height of 78 inches in flying mode; with wings folded however, it’s just 90 inches wide, 18 feet 9 inches long and of course a little taller at 80 inches. It has room for a pilot and one passenger and also has airbags and utilizes an energy absorbing crumple zone similar to that used in many cars. Also, like race cars, it has a carbon fiber safety cage in case of rollovers.

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Terrafugia, based in a Woburn, Massachusetts has been seeking approval from both the NHTSA and FAA since the maiden flight of the Transition in March of 29. To receive approval from the NHTSA, the company had to convince the agency that its light Plexiglas windows, the kind normally used on aircraft, would be preferable to the standard heavy, shatterproof glass required for automobiles and trucks. They also had to show that the tires used would be suitable for highway driving; no small feat since they were the very same tires shown to the FAA last year that showed they were also safe for use in landing.
Though it doesn’t appear Terrafugia has specifically said so, it’s clear the new vehicle will be marketed towards the well-to-do, who have the money to pay for such a vehicle (and it’s maintenance), space to house it, and private destinations that can accommodate both flying and driving.

With approval from both agencies, Terrafugia is now ready to move its flying car (or is that drivable plane?) into production, and expects to begin deliveries to customers next year. The current price of $250,000 may or may not be the final price, though customers can currently lay down a deposit of $10,000 to ensure they are first in line.

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User comments : 12

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Nik_2213
3 / 5 (2) Jul 07, 2011
Uh, visibility to the rear 'quarters' seems minimal. I'd hope the owners use due care...
pubwvj
2.5 / 5 (11) Jul 07, 2011
I don't particularly like the idea of more vehicles zooming overhead. These things come crashing down and go boom, sometimes hitting people's homes and killing the families. Not nice. At least with cars they don't crash down into my home and I can build my home up away from the road. With more small planes there is no protection. I suppose the solution is anti-aircraft guns. Automatic, of course.
Moebius
3.4 / 5 (10) Jul 07, 2011
One question, why? It's a half-ass compromise that does neither well.
ibuyufo
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 07, 2011
I'm not buying this if it doesn't come standard with XM radio.
ArkavianX
not rated yet Jul 07, 2011
One word -- Alcohol...

This would go over oh soo well.
antonima
5 / 5 (6) Jul 07, 2011
You don't have to pay as much airport fees since you can keep it at home. Also, you can refuel it at a regular gas station, and drive away from the airport immediately.

If you know the right roads you could probably take off from anywhere in the country! An interesting touring vehicle if you have the money.
RolfRomeo
5 / 5 (6) Jul 07, 2011
If you're in the market for one of these, you were already in the market for a light aircraft; this is not a car. As such it shouldn't increase the amount of aircraft flying overhead or falling out of the sky. It has a frigging parachute for frogs sake, and you could always drive it instead if the weather acts up.

Now stop being so negative, and get off my lawn!
braindead
5 / 5 (1) Jul 07, 2011
Reminds me of the Heinkel bubble-car of the '50s. I notice in the road mode picture the vehicle has no canard but the in-flight mode does. So there may be a little more to getting airborne than the "push-button wings". It's certainly an ugly duckling either way. It may turn into a swan, but likely will end up about as common as the amphibious cars that pop up from time-to-time. At the price though it would seem to be little more than a rich person's novelty item.
_nigmatic10
1 / 5 (1) Jul 08, 2011
I don't particularly like the idea of more vehicles zooming overhead. These things come crashing down and go boom, sometimes hitting people's homes and killing the families. Not nice. At least with cars they don't crash down into my home and I can build my home up away from the road. With more small planes there is no protection. I suppose the solution is anti-aircraft guns. Automatic, of course.


Think you missed the part in the video about each of these having an aircraft parachute.

On a side note, these things are way to expensive to be practical in the market. Unless they find some way to cut the cost, these carplanes will be a novelty item.
Telekinetic
1 / 5 (2) Jul 09, 2011
I've been following Terrafugia's progress for a while and at first I thought it was a shady trap for unwary investors. Now I think they're legit but the design is not easy to look at. I think about those wings retracting telescopically rather than folding, which, for my purposes, would allow the pushing of a button to elude a police cruiser in a high speed chase.
Moebius
1 / 5 (1) Jul 17, 2011
If you live near an airstrip why buy a car that flies? If you don't live near one are you going to want to drive this kluge to it? I see absolutely no use for this other than a novelty.

Take the design and take out all the car elements and you will have a much cheaper real airplane that doesn't have the glide characteristics of a flat rock. Take the savings and buy a POS to drive to the airstrip.
NotAsleep
not rated yet Jul 18, 2011
Moebius, part of the appeal here (at least to me) is similar to the appeal of having a trailer for a boat. I don't like to pay dock fees for something I'll only use a dozen or so times a year. I like to have my valuable property in a place where I can personally see to its safety. I want to be able to do maintenance on it in my back yard instead of the water. I'd rather buy normal-priced gas on the way to the lake than pay overpriced gas at the dock. Also, it's nice to only have to pack things once instead of pack a car at home then repack everything at the dock.

This isn't to say it doesn't need work... but I really like the concept. Another thought is that you wouldn't need a car wherever you're flying to. I live in Utah and it would be nice to just fly into the mountains for a day to some remote landing strip and drive up to my future dream house... ah, to be rich

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