The law establishes a commission to study “roadable aircraft,” the formal term for hybrid vehicles that can be driven along the ground but also have flying capabilities. The bill, spearheaded by state Rep. Steven Smith (R), also provides for inspections, accidents and registrations involving such vehicles.
It advises that “all roadable aircraft shall be required to take off and land from a suitable airstrip and shall be prohibited from taking off and landing from any public roadway, unless under conditions of an emergency.”
While the idea of cars cutting through the air sounds futuristic, two companies are already developing such vehicles in the state, according to New Hampshire’s Concord Monitor. The projects look less like the sleek vehicles in such science fiction films as “Blade Runner” and more like work-in-progress hybrids between automobiles and aircraft.
The companies are Chinese-owned Terrafugia, which has tested a vehicle with folding wings out of New Hampshire’s Nashua Airport, and Dutch company PAL-V, which has an office at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and is working on a vehicle resembling a cross between a car and a gyrocopter.
Keith Ammon, a former New Hampshire state representative who now acts as the state’s dealer with PAL-V, said that so-called roadable aircraft can be understood as planes that occasionally land on the ground rather than as cars that can take off into the sky.
“It’s an aircraft first,” Ammon told the Concord Monitor. “It just happens to be one that you can drive home.”
State Rep. Sherman Packard, one of the bill’s sponsors, told New Hampshire Public Radio that “there was nothing on the books that would have allowed this type of vehicle on the road” and that the bill was intended to provide rules for when and if the cars become more mainstream.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that roadable aircraft were still in early design stages. PAL-V’s vehicles are scheduled for full commercial certification in 2021.