|Favorable tailwinds for flying cars|
Flying cars are on the road toward reality.
Over the past month, two models built for both road and air travel have found favorable regulatory tailwinds, receiving certification from government agencies, which put them on a firmer path toward commercialization.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency granted first-of-its-kind certification to the PAL-V Liberty, a two-seat gyroplane, last week. The milestone came after a decade's worth of testing and development, which included working with EASA on establishing or amending 1,500 regulatory requirements that fit the vehicle.
Short for Personal Air and Land Vehicle, PAL-V is a company based in the Netherlands.The Liberty received its roadworthiness certification in October. The company intends to start handing keys to customers in 2022.
PAL-V's certification follows that of the Terrafugia Transition, which in January received its Special Light-Sport Aircraft airworthiness certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States.
"This is a major accomplishment that builds momentum in executing our mission to deliver the world's first practical flying car," Kevin Colburn, vice president of Terrafugia, said in a written statement.
The Transition is designed to meet both FAA and NHTSA standards, though the company, a subsidiary of automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, says it will sell an initial flight-only version of the "roadable aircraft" to pilots and flight schools.
At the time of its certification, Terrafugia said its "goal" was for the aircraft to be road and sky ready in 2022. But its plans may be uncertain. Last week, multiple news outlets reported the company laid off the majority of the workforce at its Woburn, Mass., headquarters and that further development would occur in China. Geely did not return a request for comment.
While much work remains to be done, the PAL-V and Terrafugia regulatory milestones suggest flying cars are no longer the realm of fantasy. The sky is no longer a limit. It's a starting point.
-- Pete Bigelow