Is this the first viable flying car? It's a question we posed back in 2006 when we first looked at the prototype Terrafugia Transition. It now looks like the answer is yes. The flying car (or “roadable aircraft,” as the Massachusetts-based company prefers), can fly like a regular plane and land at an airport before folding up its wings and hitting the road. In car mode, it can travel at highway speeds and park in regular parking spots. Terrafugia had been hoping the Transition could be classified as a light sport aircraft, as a sport pilot’s license is considerably easier to get than a regular private pilot’s license. Unfortunately, it was proving impossible to meet all the road safety requirements, while still keeping the vehicle weight under the 1,320-pound limit for a light sport aircraft. Well, it has just been announced that the US Federal Aviation Authority will make an exception for the Transition, and allow it to squeak in at 1,430 pounds. Things are looking up for this little car ... or aircraft ... or aeromobile ... or whatever you want to call it.

Not only does the weight exemption allow the Transition to get the classification its makers were hoping for, it also means the aircraft will have considerably more safety features than other light planes. The extra 110 pounds will go towards items such as airbags, a crumple zone and a safety cage - all things that are required of ground vehicles under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

As Terrafugia has pointed out, an additional safety feature is the option of driving back from one’s destination, if flying conditions are questionable.

As an aircraft, the Transition has a claimed cruising speed of 115 mph (187 km/h), a carrying capacity of 430 pounds (195 kg), and a range of 460 miles (740 km). It has an anticipated price sticker of US$194,000, and should be reaching customers at the end of next year. If you’re interested in paying the refundable $10,000 deposit to take your place in line behind 70 other prospective buyers of this revolutionary vehicle, visit Terrafugia’s website.

Via The Register

All images courtesy Terrafugia.