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Flying car getting ready for take-off

The reality of Jetsons-style flying cars came closer recently when American company Terrafugia got one step further towards getting its Transition off the ground.

The company finished its first round of six Federal Aviation Administration certification flight tests in the United States, one of the bits of red tape it has to get through before the half-plane/half-car can become legal.

Terrafugia Transition is now well on its way to becoming the first production flying car. You will need a Sport Pilot licence to drive it, though.

The project, dubbed Transition, took off around three years ago when a prototype of the flying car completed its first test flight, but since then the “pie-in-the-sky” effort has become a serious road and air-going possibility. The most recent accomplishment saw the Transition successfully pass required power-on and power-off handling, aircraft stability, engine cooling evaluation, and propeller setting optimisation tests, with five more test phases to go.

“It’s a real airplane.”

Terrafugia CEO Carl Dietrich said: “We’re flying it whenever we want, for as long as we want.”

Terrafugia (pronounced terra-FOO-gee-ah) will now begin testing road-based systems such as drivetrain, suspension, brakes, and handling. Around 100 have already been sold, and first deliveries are still expected to happen later this year, says the company. Pricing of the Transition is set at $280 000 (R2.3 million).

If the Transition gets off the ground it will be registered as a Light Sport Aircraft, requiring at least a Sport Pilot licence to fly. This means a minimum of 20 hours flight time and passing a practical test in the aircraft. Of course a normal driver’s licence is needed to drive the car on the road. - Star Motoring

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