Tue, Jul 12, 2011
The Transition Becomes The First 'Flying Car' To Receive Such
The Transition Roadable Aircraft officially received a grant of
all of the special exemptions it had requested from the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) late last
month. Terrafugia’s 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.
These exemptions pave the way for Terrafugia to begin deliveries
once Terrafugia’s rigorous Transition certification testing
program is complete. Extensive analysis and simulated crash testing
are also being employed with industry partners to ensure that the
Transition meets all other applicable crash safety standards.
The Transition is the only light airplane to have undergone this
high level of crash safety design and analysis. It is also
the first 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
These exemptions allow the Transition to use tires that are
appropriately rated for highway speeds and the vehicle weight but
are not ordinarily allowable for multi-purpose vehicles. The
same tires were used successfully on the Transition Proof of
Concept that was flight and drive tested in 2009.
Traditional laminated automotive safety glass would add
significant weight to the Transition and could fracture in such a
way as to obscure the vision of the pilot in the event of a bird
impact. This exemption allows the use of polycarbonate
materials that provide comparable protection to the occupants at
significant weight-saving without shattering or crazing –
improving the safety of the Transition.
In the exemption text, NHTSA states: “We further conclude
that the granting of an exemption from these requirements would be
in the public interest and consistent with the objectives of
In 2010, the Transition was granted an additional 110 pounds
allowance by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in a prior
exemption action by the DOT.
"Terrafugia" is Latin for "escape from land."
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