Terrafugia Wins Exemption for Transition Weight

The Terrafugia Transition has garnered a lot of hype so far. It is the latest attempt to produce and sell large numbers of a "roadable aircraft"...known in times past as a flying car. There have been a couple tries at this in the past, but none found any long-term success.

Times have changed though and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) dictate some structural characteristics for the vehicle that the Transition's makers are going to have to include to make their aircraft street legal. These features (such as a crumple zone and airbags) are not normally used with aircraft and add a significant amount of weight. In order to comply with all the FMVSS and still have a competitive useful load, Terrafugia applied for an exemption to the maximum LSA weight of 1320 pounds.

As the EAA recently reported, the FAA granted a partial exemption and will allow the Transition to weigh up to 1430 pounds.

The 1430 pound mark is based on the weight allowed for aircraft that are designed to operate on land an water. The addition of floats to such a small aircraft presents similar weight issues. Terrafugia had asked to go all the way to 1474 pounds, but 1430 isn't far short of the mark.

It's great to see a little flexibility on the FAA's part in this matter. Based on this I can tell that they're interested in the Light Sport Aircraft market succeeding and they are willing to support new ideas that may not fit the mold of traditional aviation.

I couldn't find anything describing a specific empty weight on Terrafugia's website, but I expect that's because they were waiting on the reply from the FAA before constructing a conforming prototype. With reasonably sized fuel tanks, I expect they'll make it possible to put people in both seats and head down the road...or sky while staying under 1430 pounds.

The EAA reports that Terrafugia plans to unveil the design of it's production prototype on July 26th at EAA's Airventure at Oshkosh this summer. That'd be a fun event...I wish I could be there. Congratulations to Terrafugia on getting this approval. We're looking forward to seeing your new design and hearing about more progress in your aircraft's development.