FAA Grants Extra Weight To Terrafugia

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Terrafugia Inc. has been granted an exemption from the FAA (PDF) that allows the company a maximum takeoff weight of 1,430 pounds for its Transition roadable aircraft, 110 pounds above the usual limit for LSAs. The extra weight will make it easier for the designers to comply with federal motor vehicle safety standards, which require additional components such as airbags, brakes, crumple zones and mirrors. Similar weight allowances have been made for amphibious LSA models. In a statement granting the exemption, the FAA said "the safety of roadable aircraft is better served by allowing for the weight increase for safety features required for use while driving on the road." The company says it has made progress with its production prototype design and will show a computer rendering of the vehicle at a press conference July 26, opening day at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. "People will be very pleasantly surprised with the amount of progress ... what I feel will be a technological tour de force," said CEO Carl Dietrich.

The company had petitioned the FAA to allow a maximum takeoff weight of 1,474 pounds, but the FAA chose to stick with precedent. Statements supporting the exemption were filed with the FAA by EAA, AOPA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association and others. Besides enhancing safety, Dietrich said, the change will allow his team more leeway in choosing components, keeping the price down and perhaps adding payload. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Dietrich at Sun 'n Fun about the program's progress; click here to listen.