Over the past year or so I’ve been following the progression of a couple roadable airplanes – fly and drive, you might say. The Transition by Terrafugia (http://www.terrafugia.com/index.html), a car/plane, and the SkyBike (http://www.samsonmotorworks.com/), a motorcycle/plane. The Transition is further along in development, already completing several test flights (videos available on the company’s website), while the SkyBike is still in the design phase (although Samson Motorworks intends to have a some form of prototype at Airventure 2009). Both are being built under the FAA’s Light Sport Airplane (“LSA”) regulations.
We all know that myriad regulations will apply to these hybrid machines: FAA LSA regulations, FAA operational regulations for both plane and pilot, State motorvehicle codes, National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration regulations, and more. I find myself wondering if the various regulatory agencies will hold these machines to the same regulatory standard as the single-function vehicles the agencies already regulate. Will those regulations be amended/adapted to make any exceptions? Will a new entity be created to regulate these machines? Will I one day need to research the Federal Roadable Aviation Regulations (my own inventiveness on the title)?
I surmise that the answers to these questions will, in large part, depend on whether and to what extent the machines become commercially successful. I’m curious to know what others think on this topic so please share your thoughts.