Fly me to the shops: Street and sky legal cars are finally available

May 5, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Posted in Aerospace Law Interfaces, Aviation Law Current Event | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

Source: The Independent

When US company Terrafugia unveils the prototype of its new car this July the $200,000 price tag will probably barely be mentioned. Not because this is a car to rival a Ferrari, but because it is one to soar above it. The Transition will be the first flying car. Or, as the independent team of ex MIT-trained aeronautical engineers that set up the company just five years ago prefer to call it, the first “roadable aircraft”. By the end of the year, the 100 people who’ve pre-ordered the Transition are due to receive their model. It’s street legal, offers easy storage in one’s garage and does 30mpg whether on the ground or in the air.

Might personal flight really become a reality in the near future? NASA has predicted that some 25 per cent of the US population will have access to some kind of personal flying vehicle (through air taxis or an on-demand service) within as little as a decade, and that increased road congestion – a product of ever-increasing quantities of haulage, such that the average driving speed in the US now is just 30mph – will only ensure it happens.

Certainly a mix of new legislation and technology has, over the last decade, made it much more likely. Interest in developing suitable craft has spiked in America at least following de-regulation that has seen the introduction of a new “light sport” aircraft category, making flight accessible to those with around half the training required for a typical private pilot’s qualification. It is a standard that is already spreading, with Europe also considering an equivalent. And massive reductions in the cost of advanced electronics, together with advances in lighter, more efficient power plants and carbon-fibre construction has, through computer modelling, made the design and building of suitable craft feasible.

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