Flying car takes one big step to towards reality

IT was once a dream concept featured on futuristic TV shows but the flying car has came a step closer to reality after a successful text flight.

The American-made vehicle - named the Transition - has two seats, four wheels and wings that fold up so it can be driven like a car.

Last month, it flew a prototype version flew 1,400 feet for eight minutes, bringing its makers closer to their goal of selling it commercially within the next year.

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The Transition can reach around 70 mph on the road and 115 mph in the air, a company spokesman said.

Around 100 people have already put down a 10,000 dollar (£6,240) deposit to get a Transition when they go on sale, and those numbers will likely rise after the Terrafugia company introduces the Transition to the public later this week at the New York Auto Show. It is expected to cost 279,000 (£174,000).

The flying car has always had a special place in the American imagination. Inventors have been trying to make them since the 1930s, according to Robert Mann, an airline industry analyst.

He thinks Terrafugia has come closer than anyone to making the flying car a reality. The government has already granted the company’s request to use special tyres and glass that are lighter than normal automotive ones, to make it easier for the vehicle to fly. The government has also temporarily exempted the Transition from the requirement to equip vehicles with electronic stability control, which would add weight. It is currently going through a battery of automotive crash tests to make sure it meets federal safety standards.

Terrafugia has been working on flying cars since 2006, and has already pushed back the launch once. Last summer the company said it would have to delay expected 2011 deliveries due to design challenges and problems with parts suppliers.