Saturday, February 4, 2012

An airplane in your garage?

I found this article on the other day and thought it was interesting.  It's about a company named Terrafugia, which was cofounded by a graduate student in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, Anna Dietrich. The goal of the company is to take advantage of a new rule put in place by the FAA in 2004 that lowers the barriers of entering into the personal aviation business.

Their product, The Transition, is what they like to call a "roadable aircraft."

"As a light-sport aircraft, the Transition must be operated in and out of designated airports by certificated pilots. (Because this aircraft is easy to fly, the appropriate pilot license can be earned in weeks, instead of months or years.)  Unlike any other airplane on the market today, the Transition can fold its wings on command, shift power from the propeller to the rear wheels and drive as a fully street-legal vehicle on any road in the United States. Designed to meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, it is the first light airplane to incorporate automotive-style safety features such as dash-mounted airbags, a passenger safety cage and energy-absorbing crumple zones. For added safety in flight, there is a full vehicle parachute for use in case of emergency."

(Clicking the images above will make them larger)

Maybe we aren't all that far away from living a Jetson's type lifestyle after all.


  1. So when they say "flying car", they really meant a car towing an airplane after an accident. Worry not though, there is an alternative:

  2. Those alternatives definitely look more like something out of the Jetsons. Unfortunately, I don't think they meet highway safety regulations like the one pictured above. How sweet would it be if you could cruise down an empty highway and then suddenly take flight?

  3. My big question with this is what does the control system look like? In traditional airplanes, you steer the plane with your foot pedals on the ground but in cars you obviously drive with a wheel. It definitely would be awesome to be able to drive down an empty high way and take off but what kind of FAA regulations would there be on this? It would be interesting to see how they market it.