Photo Courtesy of TerrafugiaMassachusetts-based aerospace company Terrafugia recently announced that it has received a grant of all the special exemptions it had requested from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
These granted exemptions allow the Transition to use special tires and a windshield that are not ordinarily allowable for multi-purpose vehicles. The windshield is made with a weight-saving polycarbonate, which is substantially lighter and more shatterproof than traditional automotive safety glass. The tires are the same tires the company tested in 2009.
The Terrafugia Transition is the first combined flying-driving vehicle to receive such consideration from the Department of Transportation since the 1970s, when the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards were established. The clearing of these exemptions will enable the company to begin selling its unique vehicles when the certification-testing program is complete.
The Transition is the only light airplane to have been subjected to this high-level crash safety design and analysis. The company announced that it also is working with industry partners to ensure that the Transition meets all other applicable crash safety standards. It is also the first "aircraft" to incorporate automotive safety features, such as a purpose-built energy absorbing crumple zone, a rigid carbon fiber occupant safety cage, and automotive-style driver and passenger airbags, into its design.
Terrafugia is a small aerospace company founded by pilots and engineers from MIT. The firm is supported by a network of advisors and private investors. The innovative expansion of personal mobility is the company's six-word mission statement.
Delivery of the Terrafugia Transition is expected to occur in 2012. To date, the company reports that approximately 100 have been reserved. While the final price is not yet written across the sky, it is expected to have a base price approximating $250,000. "Terrafugia" is Latin and means "escape from land." For more information, visit Terrafugia.com.