Late last month, the Department of Transportation may have gotten the closest it ever has to approving the development of a flying car. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, here we come.
The company behind the “roadable aircraft”is Terrafugia, a small aerospace company based in Woburn, Mass., and founded by pilot/engineers from MIT. The name means “escape from land” in Latin. On June 30, Terrafugia announced that it officially received a grant of all the special exemptions it had requested from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the Transition Roadable Aircraft.
Transition is the “first combined flying-driving vehicle to receive such special consideration from the Department of Transportation since the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards came into being in the 1970s,” according to Terrafugia.
Terrafugia can now finish its certification testing program, as well as do simulated crash testing and analysis on the Transition. The Transition’s safety features include a purpose-built energy absorbing crumple zone, a rigid carbon fiber occupant safety cage, and automotive-style driver and passenger airbags.
So why haven’t we gotten a flying car like the Transition earlier?
The Post’s Annie Lowrey says it’s because “we actually have had flying cars, real flying cars, for decades. They just have never successfully made it into mass production. The problem has never been making flying cars. It's selling them.”
More than 100 prototype flying cars have failed to make it to market since the Aviation Age began. But the Transition is now one step closer to getting there.