INDIA/AHMEDABAD: In 2008, NRG businessman Subhash Shihora’s wife and six-month-old son were not allowed to board a flight from Delhi to Ahmedabad despite having a valid ticket because of a technical glitch. Shihora, a major stake-holder in the Rs 2 lakh crore Urok consultancy firm in the UK, was so angry he sued the airline for Rs 21 crore. He also wanted to ensure that it never happened again. And he found a way out — Shihora has become the first Indian to buy the world’s first commercial flying car called ‘Transition’ from a company in Massachusetts, US.
Shihora now wants the car to be parked at his farmhouse off SG Road in Ahmedabad. But he fears getting permission may not be easy. He will need clearances from not just aviation agencies, but security agencies as well and has already started talking to officials.
“I fly down to Ahmedabad at least six times a year and then fly to Mumbai and Rajkot. I had taken a test drive of the flying car. By pressing just one button, the car turns into an aircraft. I have started taking flying lessons to get the licence,” says Shihora. He booked the car in 2009 and will get delivery in 2012. Shihora, who moved to UK in 1998, booked it for Rs 1 crore and will pay another Rs 1 crore by the time it is delivered. “With all taxes and duties paid, the car will cost me around Rs 6 crore in Ahmedabad.”
The car, designed with foldable wings, successfully completed its first flight on March 5, 2009 and recently got clearance from the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration. The two-seater vehicle falls in the light aircraft category and requires a private pilot licence to fly it. The vehicle, which is big enough to fit into a home garage and runs on unleaded petrol, can travel up to 450 miles and can fly at 115 mph.
Colonel VK Nagar, an aviation industry expert, says, “Directorate General of Civil Aviation and Airports Authority of India (AAI) may give permission under the micro light aircraft category. But a vehicle that can both be driven on roads and can be taken to the skies from anywhere may create issues with security agencies.”