Terrafugia, Inc., the Woburn, Mass., company developing a flying car or “roadable aircraft” called the Transition, says it received special exemptions from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The exemptions, which are particular to vehicles that fly and drive on roads, will allow the company to begin delivering the Transition when it is ready late next year. They allow the Transition to use plastic windows instead of standard automotive safety glass, and tires that aren’t normally allowed on multi-purpose vehicles.
The company says laminated safety glass used on cars for decades would add too much weight and could fracture in a way that would obscure the pilot’s view through the windshield. Lightweight polycarbonate windshields used in aircraft are designed in part to withstand impacts with birds, which are generally more of a hazard to pilots than drivers.
The vehicle’s tires are the same type used for flight testing and road testing in 2009. They are rated for highway speeds and designed for the stress of landings. The Transition has needed a number of special allowances from regulators because of conflicts between the ruled that certain rules that govern light aircraft and those that apply to passenger cars. Last year the Federal Aviation Administration gave the company permission for the vehicle to weigh 110 pounds more than is normally allowed in the light sport aircraft category.
Last month Terrafugia said it would delay deliveries of the vehicle because of production challenges and problems with suppliers. The company says it expects to deliver the first production vehicle late next year. It previously said deliveries would start late this year.