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Why the Skies Will Not Be Full of Flying Cars

4 Apr 2012, 10:33 UTC
Why the Skies Will Not Be Full of Flying Cars
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There's a reason why we don't already have them.

Terrafugia recently flight-tested its prototype “roadable aircraft,” the Transition, accompanied by much media buzz about the next revolution in transportation [YAWN].

I applaud Terrafugia’s up-front marketing strategy: they have always marketed the Transition to pilots and those who are willing to earn a pilot’s license. The company has never claimed that road-ragers can untangle themselves from traffic jams by pressing a GO UP button in their Transitions and VTOL-ing up and away, like a scene from The Fifth Element.
But here’s the catch: All involved admit a flying car tends to combine the worst of both vehicles, so for $279,000, you get an underperforming car AND an underperforming airplane in one silly-looking vehicle. In its FAQs, Terrafugia notes, “If bad weather is encountered en route, the pilot can land and drive without worrying about ground transportation…”
Sounds nifty keen-o, but most pilots planning a cross-country flight will check the weather on their route, and prepare to file an instrument flight plan if need be; if they lack an instrument rating, they will schedule the flight for another day. I doubt they find much of an advantage in buying a so-so airplane ...

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