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Flying Cars Inch Closer to Being Legal

Image: Flying Cars Inch Closer to Being Legal
The wings fold up in a demonstration of the Terrafugia 'Flying Car' during the first day of press previews at the New York International Automobile Showon April 4, 2012 in New York. (Photo credit Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 21 Jun 2016 10:24 AM

Flying pickup-truck size cars may become a reality by the end of the decade, thanks to a ruling recently issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency put Terrafugia Inc.'s Transition prototype into the "light sport aircraft" category, exempting the vehicle from the same rules and requirements as standard airplanes.

The Transition features foldable wings and can be driven like a car. The exemption could pave the way for development of flying cars in the future, according to The Washington Post.

Google co-founder Larry Page is among those supporting the burgeoning flying car industry, having funded the aviation company Zee.Aero out of his own pocket since 2010, according to Bloomberg.

"Light sport aircraft" is a classification introduced back in 2004. They may seat as many as two people, must weigh no more than 1,320 pounds, cannot have retractable landing gear or go above a set maximum speed.

The FAA created the category so manufacturers could produce personal aircraft that don't reach the requirements of the "general aviation" category. Despite some forays into light sports, most aircraft makers abandoned the idea due to low profit margins on small aircraft.

Terrafugia plans to certify the Transition as roadworthy, as well as airworthy. The idea is that pilots would take off and land on a runway, fold the wings and then drive the rest of the way to the pilot's destination.

The company shares this vision with Aeromobil, whose chief technical officer Douglas MacAndrew told the Post: "We're trying to type-approve it as a plane and one that is recognizable as a plane, then we'll try to approve it as a car…. Those things are certainly technical challenges, but they're not legislative roadblocks as of now."

Aeromobil's flying car prototype faced trouble recently. Despite its award-winning design, a test model crashed in May during a flight in Slovakia, according to Popular Science. The pilot survived, but the data suggest that the vehicle began to fly too slowly, causing it to stall.

The requirements for a street-legal automobile led Terrafugia to make the Transition heavier than a typical sport aircraft. The company says the Transition will get 35 miles per gallon on the road and can be kept in a standard-size garage.

According to the Post, getting a new automobile approved for U.S. roads is harder than winning an air-worthiness certification from the FAA.

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Flying pickup-truck size cars may become a reality by the end of the decade, thanks to a ruling recently issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.
FAA, Flying Cars, Legal
392
2016-24-21
Tuesday, 21 Jun 2016 10:24 AM
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