Weary of Dubai traffic? Get Dh1m flying car You could soon be flying over Sheikh Zayed Road instead of being stuck in traffic on the road

If the daily commute from home to office and back is becoming a bit of a drag for you, here’s some exciting news.At last week’s New York International Auto Show, US firm Terrafugia Inc. unveiled the Transition, a vehicle that can operate both as a car and, when push comes to collision, a plane.
Until now, the flying car has been a subject for science fiction and children’s books authors. No longer, it seems. A commercially available version of the car could see the light of the day as soon as next year, the company hopes.
Pending regulatory approvals (and that means a lot, by the way), Terrafugia plans to sell the contraption by 2013 for $279,000 (Dh1.02m). The Transition, in effect a two-seat aircraft with foldable wings, already has about a 100 ‘customers’ who’ve put down a deposit of $10,000 (about Dh37,000) to be among the first owners of the car (or plane, whichever way you’d like to look at it) once it becomes a commercial reality.

The company says that roughly 100 aircraft have been reserved, representing an order backlog of over $25 million. Refundable airframe reservations are currently being accepted to hold a place in production. “We are currently marketing to pilots and to people willing to become pilots to use the Transition. All sorts of people have placed reservations, from retired couples planning to travel to independent business people with clients spread over a large geographic area,” says the firm.

According to Cliff Allen, Vice President of Sales at Terrafugia, the Transition is the first vehicle in the world to have met both the (American) standards of the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This makes it the first “street legal aeroplane”, he said.

While here in Dubai it will need to get approvals from the RTA (Roads and Transport Authority) as well as the GCAA (UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority), we’re guessing that that might be some way off, considering there are a whole lot of issues to be sorted out before that.

For instance, would the driver need to be a licensed pilot as well to get into the cockpit of the Transition? Terrafugia says since the vehicle will be certified as a Light Sport Aircraft, the Transition will require at least a Sport Pilot license to fly, which requires a minimum of 20 hours of flight time and passing a simple practical test in the aircraft. Of course, one will also need a valid driver’s licence for use on the ground.

Although the maiden test journey was undertaken voluntarily by a retired US Air Force pilot, how safe is the hybrid vehicle for a daily commute with passengers, including children, onboard?

Speaking about the first flight, Terrafugia Chief Test Pilot Phil Meteer said: “It’s a remarkable vehicle both on the road and, now, in the air. When I drove it into the shop, literally from the road through the garage door, I was amazed that I had just flown it at Plattsburgh a few days before. A long-overdue mode of transportation and fun is just around the corner. I can’t wait for the upcoming flight tests and the chance to ‘wring it out’, demonstrating how safe and enjoyable the Transition is to fly.”

Terrafugia says it will equip the vehicle with all kinds of modern technology and safety equipment including a vehicle parachute system, GPS devices, air bags and high-strength composite material to make the Transition safer for the consumer.

The Transition requires the same 91-octane fuel that is available in fuelling stations – so that won’t be an issue – while its fuel efficiency (6.7 litres per 100km on the road, and 8.4 litres per 100km in the air) would put some of the gas guzzling four-wheelers to shame. The only other issue will be the requirement for a runway to take off.

The Transition needs a 1,700-foot (520-metre) runway to take off, and those expecting to switch gears at the first sight of a traffic jam may be in for disappointment.
Weary of Dubai traffic? Get Dh1m flying car You could soon be flying over Sheikh Zayed Road instead of being stuck in traffic on the road Weary of Dubai traffic? Get Dh1m flying car You could soon be flying over Sheikh Zayed Road instead of being stuck in traffic on the road Reviewed by Sopheap Chhin on 12:31:00 PM Rating: 5

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