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Terrafugia's flying car gets FAA-approved weight gain

Terrafugia's flying car was given FAA approval for a safety-equipment-induced weight gain.

Terrafugia's flying car (the "Transition Roadable Aircraft") is one of the most promising convertible road-to-sky vehicles in the world. Really, it's more of a driveable airplane than a flying car, but the fact is, it does both.

The problem lately has been weight. The Terrafugia team needs the vehicle to qualify as a Light Sport Aircraft, an FAA demarcation for small aircraft, because the licensing requirements are much simpler--and if you want people to buy a flying car, it can't feel like flying a 747.

But the team needs to add lots of safety features before it's ready for release, like a safety cage, crumple zones, and airbags. Those features took the Transition Roadable Aircraft over the 1,320-pound limit for that flight class.

Luckily, reports Wired, the FAA granted the Terrafugia team an individual exemption, allowing them to go 110 pounds over the limit while still staying a Light Sport Aircraft.

The Terrafugia vehicle is an extremely promising idea --it runs on normal gasoline, not expensive aircraft fuel, and nets a solid 30mpg in the air (and 27mpg on the ground--not too bad). Its range is about 450 miles, with a cruising speed of 115 miles per hour. The wings fold up alongside the body when on the ground, making the vehicle about the size of a fairly large SUV (meaning it'll fit in your garage).

Terrafugia hopes to get the Transition Roadable Aircraft to market in late 2011.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com