Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sanctioned a flying car prototype by Terrafugia that could direct us towards a future, we always dreamt of, with flying cars that has been displayed in movies for years and is a hot debate ever since.
Flying cars have become a reality now. A concept that was weighed down in the past due to weight limitations has been made possible with high strength composite materials. It has been proclaimed by an innovative vehicle manufacturer, Terrafugia, that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorized one of the company’s flying vehicle, the “Transition”. On June 21, 2016, Terrafugia proudly announced that their flying vehicles was accepted by the FAA, classed as a street- legal, Light Sport Aircraft (LSA).
Earlier, the major reason for hampering this program was the concerns about the aircraft’s safety. Later, Terrafugia, after serious thought, went ahead to FAA with a new prototype and got the green light. But, the Transition is needed to be heavier than the 1,320-pound limit the FAA has set for LSAs and is the main constraint of the program. Nevertheless, Terrafugia succeeded in persuading the FAA that their aircraft is comparatively safer than other planes after filing for an exception and presenting a convincing study. Terrafugia established after a long research that the death rate and the gravity of injuries could have reduced if their aircraft was used instead of the accident aircraft studied. It was probably the study results that lead the Transition into official certification.
The Transition has been in development for many years. Its first flight was taken in 2009 and since then has been in argument with the FAA about flight restrictions. However, it has been authorized to fly off with an 1800 lb weight limit even though it still surpasses the 45 kt stall limit. In order to adjust with the strict standards of FAA, the engineers had to forgo efficiency and size during development.
In contrast to a Cessna 152, a two seater single engine plane, the Transition uses twice the distance to take off. It needs over 500 meters to clear a 50’ obstacle, on the other hand, the Cessna only requires 220 m. The aircraft will also be much slow of 400 miles (640 km) and a maximum useful load of 500 lbs, able to cruise at 100 mph. The plane uses a reasonable 5 gallons per hour at cruise speed in the air. Its road mileage is much higher at 35 mpg (6.7L/100km). The vehicle will run off of high octane unleaded automotive gasoline, which is both cheaper and safer for the environment in comparison to traditional aviation. The plane can change from driving mode to flying mode in under 60 seconds.
High price point, ridiculous mileage, the weight restrictions, two person maximum capacity will probably keep this flying car out of your garage. There will be legal issues as well regarding the training required to use it and where the plane will be legal to land and take off. Terrafugia gave a modest 8-12 years until the prototype will be commercially feasible. Nonetheless, the technology has almost reached the point where the flying cars have become a reality. Heavy inspection of technology will be done regarding the safety of the planes and the damage imposed on others in case of an accident.