September 14, 2010 10:55
Good news for drivers who are fed up with getting stuck in road traffic: a "flying car" will hit the market in the U.S. as early as next year.
U.S. firm Terrafugia recently announced it will produce about 10 Transition Roadable Aircraft a year from 2011. The vehicle is like a small personal airplane that can also drive on the road and park in a home garage like a car. It needs a runway to take off.
Meaning "escape from the ground" in Latin, Terrafugia was founded in 2006 by five graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The news instantly drew huge interest in the U.S., with local media describing the flying car as the realization of many childhood dreams about the future.
The Transition is expected to be the first aircraft that can be realistically purchasable by the general public. Currently the most basic form of air transportation is light aircraft by Cessna and other manufacturers, which cost several hundred thousand dollars. Including airport parking fees and other costs, they are prohibitively expensive for all but the rich.
The Transition is likely to cost around US$200,000-250,000, on par with a top luxury car. Terrafugia is taking reservations with a refundable deposit of US$10,000, although prospective drivers need both a driver's and a pilot's license.
The aircraft successfully passed its first test flight last year. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration gave the design of the Transition a provisional greenlight in July, recommending that the weight of the body be increased for better balance while in the air.
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