EAA Backs Terrafugia Exemption Request
December 23, 2010 — EAA has formally endorsed an exemption request to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made by Terrafugia Inc. that will facilitate the process of bringing the company’s Transition roadable aircraft to market. Terrafugia seeks exemption from Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) 110 (tire selection), 126 (electronic stability control), 205 (glazing materials), and 208 (advanced airbag requirements).
In a letter from EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower, EAA states:
- The Transition’s tires are approved for other vehicles of comparable wheel loading and have been successfully tested without issue.
- Forcing Terrafugia to develop its own ESC system would force an economic hardship in both weight and expense. The Transition, because of its relatively long wheelbase, wide track, low center of gravity, and low mass is not prone to the rollover tendencies that drove adoption of ESC requirements.
- Using safety glass in a roadable aircraft is more dangerous than a polycarbonate windshield, especially in the event of a bird strike. Required annual condition inspections would mitigate concerns of scratches obscuring pilot vision.
- Difficulty in procuring suppliers for an advanced airbag system compatible for both ground and air travel would force Terrafugia to develop its own system, and that would cause significant financial burden.
As Terrafugia has recently been awarded a Department of Defense, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract for developing a four-place military roadable aircraft based on the Transition, EAA strongly contends that process will accelerate safety and operational technologies that would eliminate this exemption within 5-10 years.