Late next year, you’ll be able to buy your own flying car — er, “roadable aircraft” — thanks to a thumbs-up from the Federal Aviation Administration. As long as you have $194,000 and a sport pilot license.
The agency approved the Transition plane-car this week, giving it a Light Sport Aircraft rating. The test prototype has been flying for about a year, but plane-maker Terrafugia will unveil its production-class plane next month at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual convention in Oshkosh, Wisc.
The Transition drives like a car, uses normal high-octane gasoline, has front-wheel-drive and even comes with airbags. Its fuel economy is about 30 miles per gallon. But unlike your Prius, it can unfold its wings and fly. You’ll only need a one-third of a mile strip for a runway, meaning you could conceivably use your own street. It is powered by a rear propeller and flies about 115 miles per hour.
The ideal customer is a sport pilot who gets tired of flying to regional regional airports only to have to wait for a cab, rent a car or use public transportation. Now he or she can just fold up the wings and motor on to the next errand.
It won’t be ideal for cargo trips — it only holds about 460 pounds, including fuel and passengers — but for sport pilots on short jaunts, it’s a one-vehicle solution.
The Transition uses normal fuel, making it the greenest plane in the sky, Terrafugia says. And potentially one of the safest — if the weather turns bad, the plane can land and drive home instead.
- Crew: 1 pilot
- Capacity: 2, pilot and passenger
- Payload: 430 lb (200 kg) ()
- Length: 19 ft 2 in (5.8 m) ()
- Wingspan: 27 ft 6 in (8.4 m) ()
- Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.9 m) ()
- Empty weight: 890 lb (400 kg) ()
- Useful load: 430 lb (200 kg) ()
- Max takeoff weight: 1,430 lb (650 kg) ()
- Powerplant: 1× Rotax 912S, 100 hp (75 kW) @ 5800 rpm (max. 5 minutes), 95 hp (71 kW) @ 5500 rpm (continuous) ()
- Propellers: Prince Aircraft Company, four-bladed “P-Tip”
- propeller, 1 per engine
- Cockpit width: 51 in (1.3 m) at the shoulder
- Fuel capacity: 20 US gal (76 L; 17 imp gal)
- Length on road: 18 ft 9 in (5.7 m) with elevator up
- Width on road: 80 in (2.0 m) with wings folded
- Height on road: 6 ft 9 in (2.1 m)
- Front wheel drive on road
- Cruise speed: 100 kts (115 mph or 185 km/h)
- Stall speed: 45 kts (51 mph or 82 km/h)
- Range: In flight 400 nmi (460 mi; 740 km); on road 600 mi (520 nmi; 970 km) ()
- Maximum speed on road: 65 mph (105 km/h)
- Fuel economy in cruise flight: 5 US gal (19 L) per hour
- Fuel economy on road: 30 mpg-US (7.8 L/100 km; 36 mpg-imp)
- Certifications: Both FAA and FMVSS certifications planned