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Flying Car Gets A Couple Thumbs Up From Government

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On: Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 9:18AM | By: Chris Weiss

Flying Car Gets A Couple Thumbs Up From Government

Look outside your window onto any crowded street or city sidewalk and you'll see throngs of disappointed adults. They may not show it on their faces at all times; they may even appear happy and jovial. But don't be fooled; they're disappointed deep down.

Thanks to cartoons and television programs like The Jetsons, these adults grew up with expectations of driving around skyways in flying vehicles. Not planes, but flying cars that could replace slower, more tedious ground driving. And, as of the year 2011, not so much as a single, multi-million-dollar flying car-for-the-stars exists.

But, a little hope has popped up and can now spread across the masses. The Transition, a "roadable aircraft" from Massachusetts-based Terrafugia, has received key regulatory exemptions from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Just the fact that this vehicle is regulated by both the FAA and NHTSA gives me goose bumps. The regulatory exemptions will help Terrafugia in a move toward production, which it hopes to begin by late next year. We'll try not to get too excited, because production schedules on all-ground cars from small manufacturers have a way of getting pushed back; we'd imagine it's multiple times as difficult to get an air-car built.

The NHTSA recently okayed the use of polycarbonate windows on the Transition in place of standard automotive glass windows. The plastic windows cut weight and provide better impact resistance in the air. The agency also allowed the use of a different type of tire, which provides for smoother landings.

On the air side, the FAA previously allowed the Transition an added 110 lbs. over traditional light-sport aircrafts. That exemption was made last year.

Not exactly the type of small, versatile, go-anywhere aircraft portrayed in The Jetsons, but an interesting idea just the same, the Transition has a pair of foldable wings that retract to allow it to navigate on pavement. The idea is that you can drive yourself to the airport, fly to your destination airport and then drive to your specific destination—all in a single vehicle. No more airport shuttles, parking fees, guys holding a sign with your misspelled name—one, singular way to travel from point to point via air and land.

A team of MIT-trained engineers is working on the design and will move on to safety testing and certification. Only the future will tell if the Transition gets off the ground (sorry, had to).

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RoadKill | 12:29PM (Fri, Jul 8, 2011)

Jesus! it's bad enough that I have to endure idiots on the road texting, eating, picking their nose (not always in that order) , driving like A-Holes and not paying attentionI have to keep my head on a swivel to keep from falling victim to one of these morons...Now they are going to be above me too?

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