Flying car gets regulatory clearanceTue, 05 Jul 2011 00:00:00 -0700
The Jetsons' futuristic vision of a flying car is one step closer to becoming a reality.
Terrafugia, a Massachusetts company developing a "roadable aircraft" named the Transition, just received special exemptions from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that will help it move the vehicle move forward to production.
NHTSA will allow the Transition to be outfitted with plastic windows rather than standard automotive safety glass. The glass would add too much weight and could fracture in a way that would obstruct the view of the pilot. The plastic windows better guard against impacts from birds, which pilots are more likely to experience than drivers.
The vehicles also will be allowed to use tires that aren't normally permitted on multipurpose vehicles. The tires used are rated for highway speeds and are designed to withstand the stress of landings.
The Federal Aviation Administration also made an allowance for Terrafugia, allowing the Transition to weigh 110 pounds more than is normally allowed in the light-sport-aircraft category.
Terrafugia earlier announced that deliveries would start late this year but now says it will be late next year before the first production vehicle takes to the road--er--the air.
By Julie Alvin