It’s been a fantasy for more than a century. Even Henry Ford hoped to find a way to get one of his early flivvers to fly, but after countless failures it may soon become a reality.
Federal regulators have approved a series of exemptions that could get the Terrafugia Transition off the drawing boards and into production as early as 2012.
Designers have equipped the car/plane hybrid with a variety of automotive safety features, including airbags, that typically aren’t offered by most private aircraft. The challenge has been to overcome some automotive standards that don’t quite work when your car is sprouting wings. So exemptions from certain rules, such as side-impact standards, had to be authorized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
That challenge resolved, Woburn, Massachusetts-based Terrafugia plans to have at least one production prototypes on display later this month at the EAA AirVenture, the annual “fly-in” at Oshkosh, Wisconsin that draws pilots and flying fans from around the world.
“The vehicle will not be ready to fly” at the show, as originally promised, noted a statement from the start-up aircraft maker’s CEO Carl Dietrich. “The first test flights would be expected in March of next year,” due to a number of other delays Terrafugia blames on its suppliers.