Woburn, Massachusetts – A light aircraft that converts to a car has come a step closer to market with the announcement that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has granted special exemptions to the vehicle.

Terrafugia, developer of the Transition Roadable Aircraft, said that it officially received a grant of all the special exemptions it had requested. This paves the way for deliveries to begin once the vehicle’s certification testing program is complete.

NHTSA has granted a temporary exemption from certain requirements for tire selection and rims, electronic stability control system, window glazing materials and advanced airbag requirements. In its statement, NHTSA said that “the basis for the exemption is that compliance with these requirements would cause substantial economic hardship to a manufacturer that has tried in good faith to comply with the standard. 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.”

The exemptions allow the Transition to use tires that are appropriately-rated for highway speeds and the vehicle’s weight, but that are not ordinarily allowed on multi-purpose vehicles. It also allows the company to use polycarbonate materials in the windows, as laminated automotive safety glass would add significant weight and could fracture and obscure the pilot’s vision in the event of a bird impact.

The Transition uses stowable wings that can be folded up when the aircraft is driven on public roads. The company has not yet set a price for the aircraft, but estimates it to be around US$250,000 and is taking deposits for orders.

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