FAA Gives Approval To Flying Car?

from the there's-my-flying-car! dept

The joking lamentation of those who were promised, back during the 20th century, of a magical Jetsons-like future in the 21st century, is the famous "but, where's my flying car?" Apparently, it's on the way. Sort of. The FAA is apparently about to give approval to the Transition, which its maker, Terrafugia, refers to as a "roadable aircraft" (catchy!) rather than a flying car. It's basically a car that has foldout wings, which can then be used to take off and land at airports. Not quite the Jetsons flying car of the future, but it's progress, right?
We had noted that there were still a bunch of companies working on flying cars, even as some of the more well known attempts have remained permanently grounded. And, of course, as people will be quick to point out in the comments (I'm sure), the idea of flying cars scares the hell out of some people, since they expect it to mean a lot more air crashes and resulting deaths. Those folks might not be thrilled to note that since this is classified as a light sports aircraft, rather than a full airplane, it doesn't require a full pilot's license -- but instead just needs 20 logged hours of flight.

There are some cool things about the Transition, such as the fact that it uses standard unleaded car fuel, rather than airplane fuel, and the fact that it's designed to fit in a garage when the wings are folded up. But, at $200,000, with rather limited range and cargo holding ability, I wouldn't worry too much about these things becoming particularly common any time soon.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jul 1st, 2010 @ 7:47am

    Commute

    Commuting will be so cool...you can look down on the drivers on the clogged freeways in contempt. Hopefully you wont ding their roofs, though.

     

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  2.  
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    Rooker, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 7:54am

    Back to the Future II

    I'm just going to point out that the setting for Back to the Future II is just five years away. Clock's ticking...

     

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  3.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 1st, 2010 @ 7:56am

    Re: Back to the Future II

    Sweet! That's when the Cubs win the World Series!!!

     

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  4.  
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    Justin, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 7:56am

    Scary that amateur pilots will only need 20 hrs to get this in the air. It doesn't look all that stable in the flight test videos and canard aircraft can be tricky to fly. Also, for $200K you could by a pretty nice Robinson R44 or cheap Grumman Yankee and still have money for a BMW M5 or a Porsche 911 Turbo

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 7:58am

    "...but instead just needs 20 logged hours of flight."

    Citation/reference?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 7:59am

    it is pretty much the worst of both worlds, a huge car with little storage and some pretty horrible looking blind spots, and a poor airplane that has a very short range.

     

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  7.  
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    Richard (profile), Jul 1st, 2010 @ 8:01am

    World's Worst Aircraft

    I have a book called "The World's Worst Aircraft". Most flying car attempts seem to have made it into this book.

    This one looks quite cool to our eyes now - but I'm guessing it'll be in the next edition but one....

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 8:18am

    Re: Commute

    That's assuming you're the only one out there with one of these. Imagine when EVERYONE has them. Just of all the bad drivers out there, and then imagine them flying a plane instead of driving a car. Flying cars sound like a great idea in theory, but in reality, it could very well be a catastrophe.

    Oh, btw, the FAA may have approved this, but has the DMV?

     

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  9.  
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    John Doe, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 8:24am

    Can I text while flying?

    Most drivers seem to have problems dealing with a 2 dimensional world, I would hate to throw another dimension at them.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 8:24am

    Re:

    Try this. Also note it is a minimun of 20 hours among other requirements...

     

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  11.  
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    Joe, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 8:29am

    Icon A5

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxpcbaJtztI

    The Icon A5 - not quite a car but you can park it in your garage, road and water take off, landing and it's most def. hellacool.

     

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  12.  
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    Michial Thompson, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 8:29am

    Re:

    What's scary about only 20 hours? What little mikee doesn't mention is that for a full license you only need 40 hours. The only difference between Light Sport and Private Pilot is in that additional 20 hours you are required to do cross countries and navigation.

    Light Sport comes with numerous restrictions, for instance not allowed to fly more than x miles (I think its 50 miles) from your departing airport, no more than 2 people in the plane, and a maximum gross weight restriction as well...

    A Sport Pilot is just as safe as a private pilot, just can't do as much. With more pilots flying I wouldn't expect it to get less safe, just more restrictive to those of us that can currently fly anywhere we please.

     

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  13.  
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    Bob, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 8:29am

    Almost

    This one got an exemption from the FAA even though it is about 150 pounds heavier than the max usually allowed under this certification. They needed the extra weight for a roll cage and airbags needed for highway use.

    The one restriction that kills it is it still has to use landing strips. Although it "can" take-off from a highway, it is not allowed to.

     

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  14.  
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    crade (profile), Jul 1st, 2010 @ 8:32am

    People can't even drive regular cars without killing themselves a good chunk of the time.

     

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  15.  
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    Michial Thompson, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 8:33am

    Re:

    AC #5, Sport Pilots require a minimum of 20 hours of logged hours to qualify for the check ride from the FAA to get their license. Facts are that few pilots are signed off by their instructors in the minimum number of hours.

    My private license required a minimum of 40 hours, I had 47.7 hours at the time of my check ride, and the only reason I was under the average of around 55 hours was that I had been riding with a number of friends who were pilots and had a good understanding of the basics before I started.

     

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  16.  
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    Bob, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 8:33am

    Re: Re:

    Agreed 20 hours is not scary. I think you can go further than 50 miles from your departing airport though, that is the Recreational license. Sports license can't fly at night.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 8:48am

    To all who provided the info re "sport", I stopped flying (USN P3's) well before this category was established.

    Interestingly, I see precious few who could actually use such a vehicle, 20 hrs notwithstanding, given the other limitations (e.g., some airspace requires ATC clearance, sunset/sunrise restrictions, etc.).

    BTW, is texting forbidden for "sport" pilots?

     

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  18.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 1st, 2010 @ 8:50am

    Re: Re: Commute

    people in Pittsburgh can barley drive on the road. Imagine when flying off the air road means flying over houses.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 8:58am

    "more air crashes"

    That result in these aircars landing on my house with me in it. How well will that work out?

    I guess don't mind the idea but I think we need to make sure that they can't fly over my house or that houses are equipped to withstand the impact without anyone inside the house getting injured.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 8:58am

    Re:

    also, it opens the door to more terrorist attacks!!!

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 9:00am

    Re:

    and what about when people run out of fuel and they just so happen to be over my house? Then what?

     

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  22.  
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    lavi d (profile), Jul 1st, 2010 @ 9:19am

    Aw

    Mike, I'm disappointed.

    Where's your insistence that the flying car is destined for immediate obsolescence due to tele-transportation?

    :)

     

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  23.  
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    Dirk Ruffly, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 9:36am

    Unnecessary flap over licensing requirements

    I've seen several posts and news reports that express concern that someone can get any for of pilot's license with just 20 hours of logged flight time; this concern is founded on a complete lack of understanding of flight training in the United States.

    Every student pilot spends hours on ground instruction and must pass a written exam indicating an understanding of how aircraft work, the rules of the road, communications, etc. In addition, each student must log actual flight hours with a certified instructor. That instructor must make a determination of when the student pilot has achieved sufficient skill and judgment to take a rigorous "check ride" from an FAA examiner (which includes both an oral exam as well as demonstrating mastery of a wide range of flight maneuvers. Each instructor's pass/fail performance is measured by the FAA and if more than the occasional student fails the check ride, the instructor is re-examined by the FAA.

    As noted by others, very few people are signed off for a check ride with only the minimum number of logged flight hours. That being said, flying is actually fairly easy and most people find the mechanics of flying under normal conditions to be straightforward. It's all the other stuff involved with flying (communications, rules, weather, judgment, etc.) that make things complicated.

     

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  24.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 1st, 2010 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re:

    They probably glide to a landing on the street in front of your house.

     

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  25.  
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    Richard (profile), Jul 1st, 2010 @ 9:57am

    Re: Unnecessary flap over licensing requirements

    In fact the real issue is how easy it is to get a driving license for the road. Anyone who uses this flying car on the road is probably at more risk there than in the air.

    In my experience it is actually harder to get a certificate to fly solo at a model flying club than to get a drivers license. Full size flying is tested more rigorously (in spite of the fact that fullsize flying is actually easier than model flying).

     

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  26.  
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    AdamR (profile), Jul 1st, 2010 @ 10:01am

    Re: Re: Back to the Future II

    Never!!

     

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  27.  
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    Ben, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 10:27am

    Re: Can I text while flying?

    I remember when A young fellow by the name of John Dudley Soh
    Slammed into the side of my pickup truck (in broad daylight, on a clear day, no traffic) when questioned as to why hi did this he answered "I looked and you weren't there".

    Do you REALLY think people like that should fly?

     

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  28.  
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    NullOp, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 10:38am

    Holy Crap!!!

    Luckily this CarPlane will require a pilots license! We will never, I repeat NEVER, allow the Average Joe/Jane to control a flying vehicle!!! Idiots can't keep their vehicles under control in two dimensions and someone wants to add the third. I THINK NOT!!!

    The CarPlane is waaaayyy cool, however!

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 10:38am

    Re: Aw

    Tele transportation doesn't offer joy rides :)

     

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  30.  
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    Cynyr (profile), Jul 1st, 2010 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re: Can I text while flying?

    and they won't, because they won't be able to get that pilots license. The way it is why do they have a divers license?

     

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  31.  
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    Richard Corsale, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 10:48am

    I hope the don't market it as a plane car.. it's the Mexican nova all over again.

     

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  32.  
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    Jeremy7600 (profile), Jul 1st, 2010 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re:

    Or any open space within landing distance from where they are in the air. You don't get a pilots license without training for this sort of thing. Kind of a lame knee-jerk reaction though. Do you think the FAA never thought of it? How clever.

     

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  33.  
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    James, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 11:41am

    Interesting Applications

    If they can increase the cargo load for this aerial/ground conveyance, this would be perfect for first responders (i.e. amberlances, police, etc.)

     

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  34.  
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    DB, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 11:59am

    As has been pointed out already, 20 hours is an FAA minimum for LSA. Most students need considerably more than that before a CFI will sign off for a checkride. For my PPL, I needed about 70 hours training before I took and passed my checkride. The FAA minimum is 35-40 hours depending on the type of flight school. 60-70 hours is pretty typical for PPL if you are not flying every day.

    WRT to the car, I just can not see how someone would take their $200,000 dollar airplane and risk it with a bunch of rolling steel vehicles. Airplanes are a very light aluminum and composite frame. A good hit from a car door could be enough to make the aircraft unflyable.

    In addition, since this is an aircraft, not just any shadetree mechanic can work on it. You would need to be an A&P.

    Overall this plane is a neat engineering feat, but it is not really going to be practical for day to day transportation.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 12:24pm

    Try playing FlightGear and people can start getting scared.

     

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  36.  
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    Spell Checker, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Re:

    ..or you could "buy" a pretty nice Robinson R44.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Back to the Future II

    so 15 more Jaws movies in the next 5 years.

     

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  38.  
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    Overtkill (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re: Aw

    No, but I'm sure that early versions will scare the hell out of you, just the same. :)

     

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  39.  
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    Rich Strong (profile), Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 5:34pm

    StrongMobile Flying Car Project

    You are cordially invited to see my StrongMobile Flying Car Project at http://www.strongware.com/dragon. You can view a 2-minute video of my full-size mockup model.
    Rich Strong (Major,USAF,Retired)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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