Flying car becomes real with testing
WASHINGTON - The Associated Press
This photo shows the prototype flying car, the Transition, during its first flight at 426 meters, for eight minutes. AP photoFlying cars aren’t just science fiction anymore. Woburn, Massachusetts-based Terrafugia Inc. said April 3 that its prototype flying car has completed its first flight, bringing the company closer to its goal of selling the flying car within the next year.
The vehicle, dubbed Transition, has two seats, four wheels and wings that fold up so it can be driven like a car. Last month, it flew at 426 meters for eight minutes. Commercial jets fly at 10.668 meters.
Around 100 people have already put down a $10,000 deposit to get a Transition when they go on sale, and those numbers will likely rise after Terrafugia introduces the Transition to the public later this week at the New York Auto Show. But don’t expect it to show up in too many driveways. It’s expected to cost $279,000. And it won’t help if you’re stuck in traffic. The car needs a runway.
The flying car has always had a special place in the American imagination. Inventors have been trying to make them since the 1930s, according to Robert Mann, an airline industry analyst who owns R.W. Mann & Co. in Port Washington, New York.
Coming closer than anyone
But Mann thinks Terrafugia has come closer than anyone to making the flying car a reality. The government has already granted the company’s request to use special tires and glass that are lighter than normal automotive ones, to make it easier for the vehicle to fly.
The Transition is currently going through a battery of automotive crash tests to make sure it meets federal safety standards.
Mann said Terrafugia was helped by the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision five years ago to create a separate set of standards for light sport aircraft. The standards govern the size and speed of the plane and licensing requirements for pilots, which are less restrictive than requirements for pilots of larger planes.
Terrafugia says an owner would need to pass a test and complete 20 hours of flying time to be able to fly the Transition, a relatively low hurdle for pilots.