Terrafugia announced January 26 that the FAA granted a special light sport aircraft airworthiness certificate for the long-awaited Transition, and that it plans to produce and sell a to-be-determined number of aircraft ahead of a “roadable” version that remains in the works.
The Massachusetts-based company said that the Transition is “cleared for takeoff,” though still awaiting federal approval to drive on public roads.
While this “initial” version of the Transition is designed to meet National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards, Bedard said the street-legal version will be “a different product,” rather than an approval granted to aircraft already in service.
“As we mature the ground drive system, integrate its components into the vehicle, and conduct performance testing, some design adjustments to the existing vehicle might be needed,” Bedard wrote. “We will consider a trade-up program to move existing customers from the initial, fly-only version to the fly-and-drive version.”
Terrafugia Vice President and General Manager Kevin Colburn noted in the company’s online announcement that the Transition team worked hard to satisfy the FAA that the Transition is airworthy:
“During an extremely challenging pandemic year, our team remained focused, improved our quality system, completed the critical aspects of the design, built the vehicle, completed 80 days of flight testing, delivered 150 technical documents, and successfully passed the FAA audit. This is a major accomplishment that builds momentum in executing our mission to deliver the world’s first practical flying car.”
AOPA supported Terrafugia’s request for an exemption to the LSA weight limit in 2015, noting the aircraft’s promise to reinvigorate the general aviation industry with new technology. The FAA granted that exemption in 2016.
While the Transition is a remarkable design (even more so once it can hit the road), it has several familiar components including a Rotax 912iS Sport fuel-injected engine that can propel it at 100 mph in the air, running on either premium gasoline or avgas. Dynon SkyView avionics and an airframe parachute are also features that the Transition shares with many other aircraft.
Features that set the Transition apart from other LSA models include four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes and folding wings that allow the aircraft to fit in a one-car garage.
Founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates in 2006 and sold to Zhejiang Geely Holding Group of China in 2017, Terrafugia is also developing a vertical takeoff and landing model.