It's the dream of every motorist stuck in an endless queue of traffic: Press a few buttons and quickly soar above all the other poor souls wasting their lives away at a standstill.

There's probably a little more to flying cars than that, but the concept of a usable car and aircraft hybrid has taken a step closer to reality for Terrafugia, whose Transition aircraft has just received approval from the US Department of Transport's (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Gaining DOT approval isn't a problem for major manufacturers, but it's no mean feat from a vehicle designed to take to the skies. As a small volume vehicle it has been granted exemption from the trappings of regular vehicles such as electronic stability control, airbags, and the Transition also uses lightweight and shatterproof polycarbonate for the windows rather than laminated glass.

Possibly more impressive is that the Transition is also designed to meet FAA approval. Price could be an issue for the casual motorist at around $250,000 and its maximum payload is only 330 pounds fully fueled - and that includes yourself and any (ideally waif-like) passengers.

Still, all of that (and the slightly ungainly looks befitting of a jack-of-all-trades) might be enough for the ardent traffic jam hater. Flying cars? They could really take off...

[The Register via Engadget]