The topic of the flying car has captivated many for decades. In the 1989 hit film, Back to the Future Part II, the image of the flying DeLorean hinted at a possible future for the flying automobile. That future however is almost within reach thanks to the AirCar.
The dual-mode car-aircraft vehicle has been in development since 2017 by Klein Vision. The company, co-founded by Professor Stefan Klein and entrepreneur Anton Zajac, has spearheaded the development of the AirCar, bridging the worlds of flying and driving into one.
In late June, the model, driven and piloted by Professor Klein, fulfilled a key development milestone when it completed its first intercity flight in Slovakia. In a 35-minute flight, the AirCar took off from the international airport in Nitra and landed at the international airport in Bratislava.
Upon landing, the unique aircraft transformed into a sports car in under three minutes and was driven into town. Not only did it mark the first intercity flight for the car but also its 142nd successful landing. The milestones also ensured that the dual-mode vehicle is inching closer towards production.
Dawn Of The Flying Car
Although the concept of the flying car seems more science fiction than a viable business, the industry is quite literally taking off. According to a report by Morgan Stanley, the flying car market is targeted to reach USD1.5 trillion by 2040.
The report analyses eVTOL (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) from the perspective of status quo, trends, business models, financing, the layout of major players, and product solutions. Currently there are several flying car models being targeted for mass-production and there are more in the pipeline.
Larry Page, cofounder and CEO of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, was among the first to recognise their potentials, personally funding three companies, Zee Aero, Opener and Kitty Hawk. Germany’s Volocopter has also thrown its name into the hat and so has Uber. The ride sharing giant has established Uber Elevate to develop flying taxis with partners such as Embraer, Aurora Flight Sciences and Jaunt Air Mobility. But the AirCar however is something else entirely.
A Marvel Of Engineering
The model is able to automatically transition from road vehicle into an air vehicle within minutes. Its design boasts deploying/retracting wings and tail. The AirCar Prototype 1 is equipped with a 160hp BMW engine with fixed-propeller and a ballistic parachute.
Under the supervision of the Civil Aviation Authority, the flying vehicle has completed over 40 hours of test flights, including steep 45 degree turns and stability and manoeuvrability testing. Prototype 1 has flown at 8200 ft and reached a maximum cruising speed of 190km/h (103kt).
AirCar Prototype 2, the pre-production model however will be equipped with a 300hp engine and receive the EASA CS-23 aircraft certification with an M1 road permit. With its variable pitch propeller, the Prototype 2 is expected to have a cruise speed of 300km/h (162kt) and range of 1000km (621mi).
“This flight starts a new era of dual transportation vehicles. It opens a new category of transportation and returns the freedom originally attributed to cars back to the individual,” explains Professor Klein. “AirCar is no longer just a proof of concept; flying at 8,200ft at a speed of 100kt, it has turned science fiction into a reality,” added Zajac.
(Images: Klein Vision)