Terrafugia Transition is a flying car.
Terrafugia Transition (Photo Credit: CC by MarkWarren/Wikimedia)

Is it a drivable airplane… or a flying car? Actually, it’s the world’s first “roadable aircraft,” and it’s created by Terrafugia, the aviation-slash-automotive company making the contraption. The business announced Wednesday that the Transition cleared a big obstacle toward its appearance at airports and rush hours. The Terrafugia Transition was given an exemption to be classified as a “light sport aircraft” by the Federal Aviation Administration. Because of the classification, Transition owners will discover it easier to get certified by the FAA to live their dream of driving a flying car.

Taxi this flying car right into the garage

Like a car, the Terrafugia Transition fits in a garage and blends into traffic. It is the opinion of CNET’s Johnathon E. Skillings that the Terrafugia Transition looks like a “Volkswagen in the belly of a carp.” It gets 30 miles to the gallon on the highway and has a top speed of 65 mph. It cruises at 115 mph in flight with a range of about 450 miles. The vehicle can transform from airplane to car in just 30 seconds, as reported by Terrafugia.

The light sport aircraft exemption

As a light sport aircraft, the Terrafugia Transition now falls under the FAA’s smallest private plane classification. The maximum allowed weight is 1,320 pounds. But it was difficult for Terrafugia to install the airbags, crumple zones and roll cage required for cars into that weight limit. Jalopnik reports that Terrafugia aimed to have the plane classified as a light sport aircraft so owners will only need 20 hours of flying time cleared to fly the Transition. With the FAA exemption, now Terrafugia is free to sell the Transition as long as buyers are informed of the extra 110 pounds.

Will Terrafugia fly with Transition?

Safety, as outlined by Terrafugia, is one of the major advantages the Transition has over traditional light aircraft. The Telegraph reports that pilots can simply drive home if the weather conditions are too severe for safe flying. But the Terrafugia Transition won’t be seen in traffic jams just yet. The flying automobile is just a prototype so far . Terrafugia expects a production model for customers in 2011. However, 70 people have already ordered the flying car expected to sell for $194,000. Each potential buyer throws down a fully-refundable $10,000 held by the business in escrow, just in case Terrafugia crashes before the Transition gets off the ground.

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