Regulators Making One Company Happy

A Massachusetts-based company recently received clearance from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to bring to market a flying car.  

The “Transition,” a flying car developed by Terrafugia, Inc. of Woburn, Massachusetts, received two critical exemptions earlier this month from the NHTSA.  The central challenge for Terrafugia (and several other companies also working on a “roadable aircraft”) has been to satisfy federal aviation requirements for light aircraft, as well as vehicle safety. The two areas of concern have been the windows and the wheels.   

One exemption allows the Transition to use plastic windows instead of standard automotive safety glass, reports the Wall Street Journal.  The company says laminated safety glass typically used on cars would be too heavy – and weight was already one of the major issues.  The Journal reports that last year the Federal Aviation Administration gave the company permission for the vehicle to weigh 110 pounds more than the accepted weight to qualify as a light sport aircraft.   

The tires on the Transition are not standard automobile wheels either.  They are capable of reaching highway speeds, but are also designed for the stress of landings.

Terrafugia’s design has somehow become more of a reality than its competitors, including the Moller Skycar or Milner Motors AirCar.  However, it will still be a while until they’re available for purchase; the Journal reports that Terrafugia expects to deliver the first production vehicle late next year.