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What flies like a plane and hugs the roads like a super-charged roadster - The Terrafugia Transition of course - And now, thanks to a much-needed concession from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), we may get to see one or more of these aero-mobiles in motion soon.
In development since 2006, the hybrid car/ light aircraft is the brainchild of Massachusetts-based Terrafugia. With a mere push of a button, the vehicle switches from a two-seat roadster to an aircraft in 15 seconds. The wings simply fold in or open out depending on what the driver wishes to do. Also, unlike normal airplanes, it runs on unleaded fuel, so it can be refueled at any ordinary gas station.
Fitted with a fuel-efficient 100 horsepower engine, the Terrafugia Transition can fly a distance of 500 miles on a single tank of gas and drive at speeds of up to 115mph.
While all the development work on the car has been down - the company was not sure until this week whether the FAA would license it as light sport aircraft or a normal one. The main difference is that pilots, which in this case means potential owners, would need only 20 hours of flying time, if it is a light sport aircraft.
However, the company had a hard time fulfilling all the safety regulations whilst still maintaining the vehicle's weight under the required 1,320lbs limit imposed by the FAA for it to qualify. Much to their relief, the FAA made an exception and ruled that the 1,430lbs Terrafugia, could indeed be a light-sport aircraft.
Now the company's only challenge is to find enough buyers who have $200,000USD to spare and access to a runaway of 1,700sq.ft. for the Terrafugia Tranisition to take off.
However, the company, who expects to roll out the vehicles in fall of this year, says that it already has advance orders from 70 customers and expects many more, thanks to the FAA decision. For those who cannot afford the real deal, paper model kits are available on the company's website, for a mere $4USD.