Flying cars are the stuff of sci-fi movies not reality, or are they? Terrafugia is a Massachusetts-based company working on building flying cars and it recently secured permission to begin testing them at an airport in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Terrafugia is leasing hangar space at the airport and expects it to be adequate to manage the first couple of years of testing. Its flying car, called the Transition, isn’t just a pipe dream. It’s slated for production in 2019.
The company plans to have between 6 and 10 employees at the new facility. Although that’s a small number to start, Terrafugia expects that number to grow and for the airport to eventually be its base of operations for both maintenance training and pilot training.
Since this isn’t just a plane or just a car, but both, testing is a bit more complicated. The vehicle needs to be in compliance with both Federal Aviation Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations regulations, so both road tests and flight tests will be performed in and around the airport.
The Transition is a two-seater with an upscale interior so think of it as your luxury car with wings. Those wings fold up on either side of the car at the press of a button in less than a minute. There’s no complicated series of levers or latches and no need to even leave the vehicle. Think of the process the same way you think of pushing a button to open and close a convertible.
Since the wings fold up close to the body for driving, there’s no need to worry about parking it in a hangar. You can put the Transition in your driveway just like any other car. It doesn’t even need aviation fuel. This thing runs on 91 octane automotive fuel.
As for range, the Transition will be able to fly up to 400 miles on a single tank of fuel with a top speed of up to 100 mph. The company is very clear to point out that you should stick to posted speed limits out on the highway.
The Transition sports safety technology like seatbelts, rearview cameras, and airbags, along with an airframe parachute. This is a plane, after all, and the safety needs to accommodate the road and the air.
It will also require two licenses to operate. You’ll need your driver’s license and a sport pilot license. That should take care of any worries that the sky will suddenly be full of people who have no idea how to fly.