Terrafugia, Inc., developer of the Transition® Roadable Aircraft officially received a grant of all of the special exemptions it had requested from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Terrafugia’s Transition® is the first combined flying-driving vehicle to receive such special consideration from the Department of Transportation since the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards came into being in the 1970s.
These exemptions pave the way for Terrafugia to begin deliveries once Terrafugia’s rigorous Transition® certification testing program is complete. Extensive analysis and simulated crash testing are also being employed with industry partners to ensure that the Transition® meets all other applicable crash safety standards. The Transition® is the only light airplane to have undergone this high level of crash safety design and analysis. It is also the first 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.
These exemptions allow the Transition® to use tires that are appropriately rated for highway speeds and the vehicle weight but are not ordinarily allowable for multi-purpose vehicles. The same tires were used successfully on the Transition® Proof of Concept that was flight and drive tested in 2009.
Traditional laminated automotive safety glass would add significant weight to the Transition® and could fracture in such a way as to obscure the vision of the pilot in the event of a bird impact. This exemption allows the use of polycarbonate materials that provide comparable protection to the occupants at significant weight-saving without shattering or crazing – improving the safety of the Transition®.
In the exemption text, NHTSA states: “We further conclude that the granting of an exemption from these requirements would be in the public interest and consistent with the objectives of traffic safety.” In 2010, the Transition® was granted an additional 110 pounds allowance by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in a prior exemption action by the DOT.
Terrafugia (terra-FOO-gee-ah), based in Woburn, MA, is small aerospace company founded by pilot/engineers from MIT and supported by a world-class network of advisors and private investors. Terrafugia’s mission is the innovative expansion of personal mobility. "Terrafugia" is Latin for "escape from land."
Source: Terrafugia press