NY Auto Show: World's first 'sky-worthy' car

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NEW YORK. April 10. KAZINFORM US company Terrafugia has put on display a prototype car that is licensed to fly as well as drive, at the New York International Auto Show, Kazinform refers to BBC.

It is the first vehicle in the world to have met both the standards of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) , according to Cliff Allen, Vice President of Sales at Terrafugia.

This makes it the first "street legal aeroplane", he said.

Known as the Transition, the versatile vehicle has two seats, four wheels and retractable wings.

It is expected to be available next year, with a price tag in the region of $279,000.

Test flight

The vehicle currently has an experimental certificate from the FAA, meaning the company has permission to fly it in US airspace for test purposes. The company hopes in time it will gain a light sport aircraft licence.

The hybrid vehicle completed its first successful test flight at Plattsburgh International Airport near Montreal in Canada last month.

A retired US Air Force test pilot took the maiden voyage - after volunteering his services.

"We are very fortunate to have found him," said Dr Samuel Schwegart, an engineer at Terrafugia working on the project.

The vehicle flew at 1,400 feet for eight minutes.

However, important details still need to be worked out from test data, including the stall speed of the aircraft.

There are significant design challenges marrying a roadworthy vehicle with a skyworthy one, according to Dr Schwegart.

"We were curious to see how it would take off," says Dr Schwegart. "Unlike a normal plane, it cannot rock back on its rear wheels at the moment of take-off, because it is designed to be stable as a car on the road."

The engineers also found that Transition needed more speed than anticipated on take-off, to generate the necessary lift for ascent.

A hard landing was also reported, but nothing of concern, according to Dr Schwegart.

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