Flying Car Gets Final Approval, To Ship by 2012

Dennis Faas's picture

Terrafugia's flying car, which has been in development for some time, has been given the 'thumbs up' by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) -- meaning it should start appearing on U.S. highways soon.

The NHTSA has granted Terrafugia's drive-able plane -- called the Transition -- a special exemption that will allow the company to begin shipping units from its Massachusetts plant (after final testing, that is). Terrafugia says the Transition will be ready for manufacturing this year, with the first completed units being shipped out early in 2012. (Source:

Special Windshield, Tires Set Transition Apart

The Transition includes several parts that set it apart from both the common car and the average plane.

Unlike your typical roadster, the Transition includes a special windshield made of polycarbonate, which is lighter than the average windshield and can withstand the impact of high-speed objects -- like large birds. And unlike the typical jet-plane, the Transition has tires that are rated for highway speeds.

Terrafugia is obviously excited about the news. It calls the Transition, which was first tested two years ago, "the first (light airplane) to incorporate automotive safety features such as a purpose-built energy absorbing crumple zone, a rigid carbon fiber occupant safety cage, and automotive-style driver and passenger airbags." (Source:

Transformation Takes Less Than a Minute

In case you're wondering, the Transition makes a fairly rapid transformation from car to plane, and vice versa. Its wings can be folded up for highway driving in less than sixty seconds, reducing its wingspan from 26 feet (flight mode) to just 90 inches (driving mode).

The Transition won't be an everyday vehicle. Not only is it a bit extravagant for the daily commute, but it's also priced at $250,000. Anyone interested in getting an early model will need to drop a $10,000 deposit.

Terrafugia says it's already received 100 pre-orders for the vehicle.

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