The Terrafugia Transition, a flying car built by the firm Terrafugia, has earned an exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration to be classified as a “light sport aircraft.”
According to Jacob Bogage at The Washington Post, the FAA created this classification in 2004 to allow airplane makers to design personal aircraft without the longer and more expensive regulations used for heavier general aviation. However, the approval of this vehicle in the design and experimentation stage shows the obstructionism and precautionary bureaucracy that plagues innovation in experimental arenas such as the flying car space.
Bogage quotes Paul Moller, president and CEO of the competing aviation firm Moller International as saying “we’ve worked with the FAA, and you’re going to have your bureaucrats and people who don’t want anything to change, but other people can see the future.”
As innovators compete to construct viable, safe aircraft that are also roadworthy, governmental regulators should allow for innovators to test their designs and bring them to market without undue burdens that only serve to slow innovation and undermine the safety tests companies are already incentivized to conduct.