With several automakers already investing in technologies such as autonomous driving and air taxis, it seems like the idea of a flying car will ultimately be an impractical fantasy. However, there are some who believe that there is a future for a vehicle that is just as comfortable on the road as it is in the air. Terrafugia appears to be in that line of thought as its flying-car project has just been given the legal green light to take to the skies.
After an extensive flight-test program, the US Federal Aviation Administration has awarded the Transition flying car an airworthiness certificate in the Special Light-Sport Aircraft category. SLSA rules state that aircraft must have only one engine, fixed landing gear, two seats at most, a maximum weight of 599kg, and a maximum speed of 222km/h in level flight. It must also be flown by a pilot holding a valid light-sport license.
In the air, the Transition is powered by a 100hp Rotax 912iS four-cylinder that can push it to a never-exceed speed of 161km/h. Its Dynon Skyview avionics allow the pilot to see through low visibility, and it’s equipped with an airframe parachute in case of emergencies. In its road-going form, the Transition gets by with hybrid-electric drive motors, and the rigid cabin is said to meet automotive safety standards.
Speaking of safety standards, Geely-owned Terrafugia hopes to get the Transition’s NHTSA certification next. The company plans to initially sell flight-only examples to eager clients, and is aiming to have its flying car deemed safe and legal for both the road and the sky by 2022.