The Klein Air Car, whose name is a pretty accurate description, took its first meaningful test flight last week and now theoretically heads into the uncharted territory of marketability. The vehicle, which has a pusher prop, folding wings and extendable twin tailbooms, seems to look and behave like both of the modes of transportation its name evokes. It completed two full patterns of an airport in Slovakia, reaching 1500 feet AGL. The latest test flights came after weeks of short hops down the runway. In flight, the Air Car appeared stable and didn’t seem to require any extreme inputs to keep it in the air. “The key flight parameters confirmed all theoretical concepts and calculations that the development of the AirCar was based on,” the company said in a news release. In those theories and math are goals that appear as lofty as the technical achievement of creating an Air Car worthy of the name.
The company is also aiming to make it accessible and easy to fly with a cruise speed in the 150-knot range and a range of 600 miles burning about five gallons an hour. Although it needs a runway, the takeoff run of the production model is estimated at about 1,000 feet. Payload is less than 500 pounds, however. The test model is powered by a BMW 1.6 liter engine but the production Air Cars will have 300-horsepower ADEPT Airmotive V-6 engines. The first models will have two seats but a four-place is planned. Klein is pitching the convenience and practicality of the design. “With AirCar you will arrive at your destination without the hassle of getting a ride to airport and passing through commercial security, you can drive your AirCar to the golf course, the office, the mall or your hotel and park it in a normal parking space,” said spokesman Anton Zajac.
Eventually, someone, somewhere is going to nail this concept. Although, the idea of aircraft zooming around as thick as today’s ground cars seems like a nightmare to me. I personally like the idea of looking at a sky not cluttered with what will resemble flocks of mechanical gnats.
Until you’re faced with the insurance premiums on a half-million-dollar car that your local auto-body shop legally can’t repair. That bill would buy a nice, used Skyhawk – each year.
IIRC, they can repair it, but it has to get signed off by an A&P. At any rate, A&P’s are generally less expensive hourly nowadays aren’t they? The overhead of machines and software per car mechanic are, I suspect, the culprit.
This will never become a reality for the unwashed masses, who have neither the aeronautical skills to operate anything like this, nor the resources and motivation to acquire them. If it ever does come to pass, it would, as you point out, be aeronautical pandemonium, with the aforesaid masses zooming around more focused on checking their facebook pages on their digital devices than flying the aircar. As it is now, we see how that works for them in their present automobiles – it doesn’t end well for many.
If/win flying cars become the normal it will be a completely autonomous system both in the sky and on the ground. So everyone will be social media junkies while their car/plane/train etc does it thing.
win=when tab to complete got me
Well I’ll give them this: At least it’s a good looking machine. It LOOKS like a nice car, and the LOOKS like a reasonable airplane. Other products I’ve seen in this space always feel like they were born from insects.
Machines that are designed to do 2 things, May do both, but usually do not excel at either.
The Samson Sky Switchblade is soon to fly as well. In order to avoid the weight of all the DOT requirements they opted to register the vehicle as a motorcycle. They have would have been flying already but the powerplant has not lived up to specifications and they have had to go with their alternative.
I lived within a 1/4 mile of the only certified airplane / car. It was located in a barn on Robert Fulton’s property in Newtown, CT. Being a pilot, I got to know Mr. Fulton pretty well and he showed me his Aerocar as well as many other inventions he had developed over the years including the sky hook.
Another interesting tidbit is that the approach to his runway was directly over my house. He was lucky a fellow pilot lived there because I never complained about a low approach over the house and kept the rest of the neighborhood pacified.
The problem that every flying car startup faces and, heretofore, has failed to overcome, is that flying cars tend to be the worst of both worlds. Customers are asked to pay big bucks for what is ultimately a mediocre airplane and a weird car. And all that so you don’t have to take an Uber to rent a car. It’s tempting until you really put pencil to paper and do the cost-benefit analysis. No doubt there is a niche market for this but to date it hasn’t been big enough to allow these startups to become sustainably profitable. I’ve been watching flying car concepts come and go over 25 years of flying and I just keep wondering what investors are thinking.
Well, as an aside, I’ll never “take an uber” to get anywhere, but that’s just me. On the other questions, I agree these contraptions and similar ones to follow will never be “practical” – they’ll be overpriced novelties wealthy people will buy because they can. I think the “inventors” who come up with these things just do it for the challenge. Conquering the challenge is their reward.
As mechanically complex as it must be, it would be outrageously expensive to produce.
As expensive as it must be, it would be low volume production.
Such low volume production would induce an even higher sell price.
With such a high sell price it would be essentially un-insurable.
Being un-insurable . . . well, like all the other flying cars, it ain’t gonna fly.
Cantankerous old geezer goes off, hand props his ole yeller Cub, and goes fly’n.
Notice that there’s been no mention of any FAA certification yet. As a former aircraft owner and pilot, I’m painfully aware of the contribution FAA certification makes to exponentially elevate prices of ANYTHING even remotely connected to aviation.
So it’s kinda like an Icon A5 then, right ???
Driving an aircraft around town, is very unlikely by any sane pilot, however, being able to fold up the wings and load your aircraft up into an enclosed trailer? Well, that’s a completely different matter. I would be very interested in an aircraft that is economical to purchase, and operate with the added benefit of not having to store it at an airport.
Aviation is expensive, but, we can chose where to put our dollars. I can and will build a heated and cooled barn to store my aircraft in, over renting a bare bones T-hanger. I think, under proper development of this aircraft, there will be buyers.
So a Kitfox?
A darn good option! It’s been a while since I’ve flown a conventional gear, sure would be fun!
My first reaction was “That’s not a fugly aircar design.” The next was “That’s a lot of origami mechanicals to make the wings/empennage functional.” Which led to “That’s a lot of things to break” and “The annual will be a nightmare.”
Maybe it will show up in the next Bond film. It sure looks a lot better than “Little Nellie”. More likely, it’ll be in the next Bond film starring Sean Connery… :-/
Al E.: If you’re willing to keep your aircraft in an enclosed trailer, you could do what I did. My experimental helicopter lives in a enclosed trailer that cost $5,000 new. And it “don’ need no steekin’ airport” at all.
LOL, if I only new how to fly a helicopter. The trailer will mostly be for transport. It’ll be going in a barn/hanger on my property. Unfortunately, too mountainous here for a runway, on my property.
It’s pretty, but I think the Klein Air Car will be as useful as a Klein Bottle.
This is definitely a looker and as such requires a little more scrutiny. While location was crucial for initial test flights to determine overall capability to achieve car and aircraft handling, there may be some hidden hurdles not revealed in this promotional video. Here in the USA, if I’m not mistaken, over the road vehicles require headlights, tail lights, brake lights, rear and/or side view mirrors. License plate(s) mounted and any emissions/safety inspections. I don’t see side view mirrors. New York and California have some of the toughest vehicle emissions standards while Michigan and several other states ignore them. Prospective owners interested in this air car are either ignorant of their state and FAA regulations or will scrutinize their state and FAA regs before forking over a deposit. And this is well before this air car meets federal/state vehicle safety/emissions and acquires an FAA airworthiness certificate. I can’t imagine anyone driving out of their Manhattan underground parking lot, maneuvering this expensive air car in congested traffic and managing to avoid a fender bender while attempting to drive to a local small airport like Teterboro in NJ, Republic or MacArthur airports on Long Island. Away from the big cities, the well heeled can drive almost anywhere from their car port to local airport.
“Here in the USA, if I’m not mistaken, over the road vehicles require headlights, tail lights, brake lights, rear and/or side view mirrors. License plate(s) mounted and any emissions/safety inspections.”
When the time comes, they may bank on the “Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015”. So long as they produce less than 325 vehicles per year, they’ll be exempt from a lot of federal motor-vehicle regulations. This law was primarily aimed at the kit- and specialty-car market but could certainly apply here.
Until regulations change…. Drivers will have to obtain at least a private pilots license to fly. Dumb idea that evokes dreams of people stuck in traffic jams soaring their way home.
Go ahead and put 50K commute time cars in a major metropolitan area in the sky at once. Oh, lets hope it’s a great VFR day, and there’s a place to land and take-off near home & work.
When a decent LSA aircraft costs $200K, a flying car would be way beyond this price. Fender bender or scuff in parking lot? Sure, go fly home.
Who’s the market demographic? The pilot who doesn’t want to borrow a crew car, get a rental car, or not leave an old car at their regular destination?
Inventors tried for years to make cars that float. We would up with both a poor boat and poor car design.
I recall talking to an engineer from Terrafugia years ago. They took great pains to call it a “roadable aircraft”. Their goal (back then) was to make a good flying airplane first. They reasoned that pilots would put up with a mediocre car, but not a dog of an aircraft. For proof, just witness all the junky crew cars we happily drive after flying our favorite bird.
Too much skepticism.
Someone who commutes by air could get their money’s worth. Their are professionals with practices in multiple small towns as well as business owners with similar needs. It depends on the transition and other factors I suppose.
There’s always the rich guy toy market as well.
Presumably some state could simply legalize these vehicles so long as they pass with the FAA. I’d love to see that. DC needs a good dozen instances of states asserting their rights.
Whoever designed this ridiculous ‘thing’ obviously never took any courses in reliability engineering.
I find nothing, absolutely nothing even remotely attractive about a flying car. It’s about as attractive as a flying turd. Now, a flying motorcycle would be interesting.
Flying rocket-powered motorcycles in a beautifully realized Art Deco future? Seen Bradley Schenk’s work? This is the “flying car” I want: https://www.zazzle.com/if_i_only_had_wings_id_fly_24x18_poster-228399195405638091
Flying car season has come early this year. Usually the press waits until the dead of winter when we’re all bored from the combination of bad weather and short days before trotting out these types of stories. Maybe this predicts a bad winter coming, like the fuzzy caterpillar or the bushy-tail squirrel.
Does anyone else find the comments about flying at 150 kt using a 300 hp V-6 engine and using only 5 gallons/hour of fuel just a little hard to believe? Also they will have a hard time selling them to portly Americans with a paultry 500 pound useful load limit. It does not appear that there are actual doors on either side of the cabin, so good luck climbing in and out. It would also be interesting to watch someone trying to maneuver it through a high-rise parking garage in a major city. Interesting design, but not terribly practical. Maybe they could get the FAA to certify it under their “new and improved” LSA rules, due out shortly. 😉
There is a practical question ignored by all of these “air car” companies. Where are you going to find an airport willing to let you drive in and fly away. What are the chances that there is an airport like that where you want to go? We see fewer and fewer local airports accepting small GA aircraft as it is because they all want to attract business aircraft to pay for the airport/services. As long as these “air cars” still require a runway for takeoff or landing they will still not pass the practicality test.