A car that can fly sounds like something from a science fiction mov i e, but it might just become a
reality in the ve ry near future. The company Te rra f u gia says it plans to deliver its car- p l a n e, the
Transition, to customers by the end of 2011. It re c e n t ly cl e a red a major hurdle when the Fe d e ra l
Aviation Administration granted a special weight limit exemption to the Transition.
The Transition is a long way from cartoons with flying cars zooming above traffic. The car-plane has
wings that unfold for flying ? a process the company says takes one minute. The wings then fold back
up for driving. However, a runway is still required to take off and land.
The Transition is being marketed more as a plane that drives than a car that flies, although it is both.
The company has been working with the FAA to meet aircraft regulations. The company has also had
discussions with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about vehicle safety regulations.
The company is pitching the Transition to private pilots as a more convenient ? and cheaper ? way to
fly. They say it removes some of the difficulties of trying to find another mode of transportation to get to
and from airports: You drive the car to the airport and then you are ready to go. When you land, you fold
up the wings and hit the road. There are no expensive hangar fees because you don't have to store it at an
airport. You simply park the car-plane in the garage at home.
The plane is designed to fly pri m a ri ly under 10,000 feet (about 3,000 meters). It has a maximu m
takeoff weight of 650 kg, including fuel and passengers. Gas mileage on the road is about 13 kilometers
per liter. Terrafugia says the Transition reduces the potential for an accident by allowing pilots to drive
under bad weather instead of flying into difficult conditions.
The Transition's price tag: $194,000. But there may be additional ch a rges for options like a ra d i o ,
transponder or GPS. Another option is a full-plane parachute.