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.

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Companies: faa, terrafugia

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Comments on “FAA Gives Approval To Flying Car?”

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40 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

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?

Justin says:

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

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

Re: 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.

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

Re: 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.

Ben says:

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?

Bob (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

“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.

Dirk Ruffly says:

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.

Richard (profile) says:

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).

DB says:

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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