AirCar Completes First Inter-City Flight

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Slovakia-based Klein Vision successfully flew its AirCar roadable aircraft prototype from Nitra to Bratislava this week. The 35-minute flight marks the first time the vehicle has travelled between two cities. Described as a “dual-mode car-aircraft vehicle,” the AirCar is equipped with a 160-HP BMW engine and features an automated transition time of less than three minutes.

“This flight starts a new era of dual transportation vehicles,” said pilot and company co-founder Stefan Klein. “It opens a new category of transportation and returns the freedom originally attributed to cars back to the individual.”

To date, the two-seat AirCar Prototype 1 has flown for over 40 hours, reaching altitudes of up to 8,200 feet and a top speed of 190km/h (103 knots). According to Klein Vision, the Prototype 2 model will be equipped with a 300-HP engine and capable of a 300 km/h (162 knot) cruise speed with a 1000-km (540-NM) range. The company is pursuing EASA CS-23 aircraft certification with an M1 road permit for the vehicle. Four versions of the AirCar are reportedly in the works including two-seat, four-seat, twin-engine and amphibious models.

Video: Klein Vision

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26 COMMENTS

  1. “In OTHER breaking news, the Fulton Airphibian ‘flying car’ flew in 1946–75 years ago. It could cruise at speeds up to 110 statute miles per hour, and carried 1-4 people on board (though it had a useful load of only 600#). The “flying car” was certified by the CAA in 1950, but only 4 prototypes were produced. It joins the Waterman Aerobile (1937, 5 produced–no retail sales) and the British Portsmouth Aerocar (1 produced–none certified) of the 1940s. Not to be forgotten, Molt Taylor’s Aerocar of 1949 (6 built, one certified in 1956).”

    Hardly newsworthy–roadworthy, or airworthy–16 “flying cars” built in 84 years, and only two certifications–I wouldn’t “bet the farm” on this one succeeding, either.

  2. Now just wait a doggone minute! This thing runs on petrol … how are we gonna save the planet with all manner of flying cars zipping around and the cost soaring because we’re going back to being energy dependent? Sure hope it has ADS-B? Well … at least it isn’t vaporware … just of no interest to the masses.

  3. I’m not going to bother stating the obvious about of flying cars, others will beat that dead horse. Unlike many of the commenters I like to see people make interesting things happen and can put concerns about viability and such aside and appreciate something cool when I see it. I like the design, it looks like something out of Blade Runner, and the tube frame 3D model I saw of its structure was interesting. The BMW K1600 motorcycle engine is a tidy choice, a small Inline 6 which is light, relatively cheap, port injected, has a timing chain, has an integrated transmission with longitudinal output shaft, and is certainly simpler and more reliable than any modern small car engine is likely to be. This engine is also a stressed member in the motorcycle, so if the engineers used it as a stressed member in this aircraft, there are weight savings to be had.

    One of the reasons I like to see this kind of thing is that I’m an engineer in aerospace with a love for cars, and from an engineering standpoint, flying cars are really close to being a dream of the past. People are just going to give up on it eventually. First off, general aviation is dying due to costs soaring into the mesosphere like a U2 with an afterburner, we’re seeing LSA toys reaching prices that small certified GA planes used to cost and the used market is vulnerable to attrition. Secondly, the regulatory structure has become onerous for both GA and small carmakers. It’s a wonder we ever see any small ventures give it a shot these days given the staggering costs of the red tape. Modern auto standards; emissions, fuel economy and safety, will have even dreamers are finding after back-of-the-envelope calculations that it’s just not feasible to make a street legal plane, let alone use an emissions approved modern engine in a light aircraft. The complexity is too great, the reliability too poor, and bulky modern catalytic converters are a hot and heavy liability for an aircraft. Furthermore a car that meets modern crash test standards has to be strong in places that an aircraft does not, so a significant weight penalty is incurred once you make it strong in the places an aircraft does have to be strong. Take the reciprocating engine out of the picture and go EV and you’ve even more weight to deal with. Batteries have laughable energy density and don’t get lighter as you drain them, this will be a significant hurdle at least until the next big thing in batteries which is always “5-10 year away” is honestly 5-10 years away instead of just being touted as such to keep the research funding coming. Enjoy the cool concepts while you can, people. The world of aviation and cars is destined to become more boring in your lifetimes.

  4. The article stated that the extant version gets 103 knots on 160 hp. But the next iteration will be capable of 162 knot cruise on 300 hp.

    That math doesn’t work. Consequently, credibility goes straight out the window.
    Too bad. More disappointment.

      • Simplistically, with all else being the same, drag increases by the square of an increase in speed. Twice the speed? Four times the drag. To counteract that drag, you need four times the horsepower, to double the speed.

        A 300 hp engine has 187% of the power of a 160 hp engine. The square root of 1.87 is 1.37
        Consequently, an 87% increase in horsepower can be expected to yield a theoretical 37% increase in speed.

        137% of the cited 103 knots for the 160 hp vehicle is 141 knots; not 162.
        That blistering speed would require 396 hp. Again, all other things being equal.

        When a proponent makes a preposterous claim, they lose credibility. I don’t know what the real numbers are, but I know that the cited ones are self-contradictory.

        • I think you are assuming there are not changes to the vehicle. I get the impression the next version will be a different craft. I’m no engineer, but I think your formula is for swapping engines without significant change to the aircraft. 300hp can certainly pull a plane over 162 knots.

          • “300hp can certainly pull a plane over 162 knots.”
            But can 300 hp pull a car – a flying car – at more than 162 knots?
            Maybe. But that flying car would need to have only 75% of the drag that this prototype one has.
            A 25% reduction in drag? Tall order, for any design project.

        • Drag force goes as the square of the velocity but power is force X velocity so the power required goes as the cube of velocity. Want to go twice as fast, it takes 8 times the power assuming everything else stays the same.

  5. I see the points of the above commenters and agree. Buy a plane (already a terrible investment 😉 and leave a 1996 Ford at the airport. Problem solved.

    But this thing is James Bond level cool.

    What is also interesting is Slovakia. That country is developing some amazing tech and engineering rivaling the Germans and the Japanese, and has been producing some of the best bicycle racers in the world as of late.

  6. By far the coolest one yet. Hides just about everything but the prop. Probably just for USA rich, white privileged folks. Better ask Russ Niles how guilty he would feel about flying/driving one. BTW does it have a gender? Would not want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

    • If you are in love with your plane it seems to fit. The better you treat them the more they will take care of you. Something to respect and revere. She. Feels right to me . The personification of things, you may call it whatever you like, but it is more than the sum if it’s parts.