Many said it would never happen. And certainly, it took time. But Terrafugia’s team of engineers and visionaries succeeded in getting a weight increase exemption for their Transition roadable aircraft. LSA land planes are limited to 1,320 pounds (600 kg) by FAA regulations. Seaplanes are allowed another 110 pounds (50 kg) for the float gear or amphibious hull. *** On May 27, 2010, FAA granted Terrafugia the same parameters as seaplanes primarily as the Transition must also meet federal highway standards (wipers, rear-view mirrors, impact capability, and much more). The Terrafugia team was ecstatic. “We were extremely pleased that FAA recognized the potential safety benefits of bringing a product like Transition to the market and incorporating the features needed to operate on the road with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards,” said CEO Carl Dietrich. *** In the official exemption document, FAA Small Aircraft Directorate Manager Kim Smith wrote, “The Transition roadable aircraft is unique and must simultaneously meet both sets of standards for ASTM and FMVSS.” The agency specified this exemption is only available for the Terrafugia Transition. *** “We had been targeting a useful of 430 pounds for a 100-hp engine (the minimum under ASTM standards),” explained Dietrich. “Now, we can increase that. We are reviewing right how to produce appropriate expectations. We need some of the extra weight for required features to operate on the road but some of the exemption weight increase will allow us to offer more payload to customers.” *** It can be challenging to stay within LSA weight limits. Several leading Light-Sport producers have shaved ounces wherever they could and still only offer modest useful loads. “Without the exemption, we would have been forced to use very expensive components to keep within LSA weight parameters,” Dietrich clarified. “Now we can use more reasonably-priced components. That’s important as we know the market demands an affordable price for any product.” The CEO spoke for his whole Terrafugia team and added, “We were really encouraged to see the support we got from AOPA, EAA, LAMA, Women in Aviation and others.” All photos courtesy Terrafugia
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