AirCar Notches Slovakian Airworthiness Certification

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Klein Vision’s AirCar has received a certificate of airworthiness from the Slovak Transport Authority. The certification comes after 70 hours of testing, including more than 200 takeoffs and landings. The testing is “compatible with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) standards,” according to the developer of the dual-mode car/aircraft.

Stefan Klein, inventor of the AirCar, leader of the development team and test pilot, said, “AirCar certification opens the door for mass production of very efficient flying cars. It is official and the final confirmation of our ability to change mid-distance travel forever.”

Powered by a 139-HP, 1.6-liter BMW automotive engine, the AirCar made its first intercity test flight—35 miles—in June last year in its native Slovakia. Klein launched the development program in 2017, the fifth step in his march toward designing and producing a practical “flying car.”

The AirCar fuselage is made up of a sports-car-shaped carbon-fiber, semi-monocoque structure, designed to provide up to 40 percent of total lift when airborne. More than 20 servo motors extend the wings and tail to convert from automotive to airborne operations in a little more than two minutes. The pusher propeller is permanently installed and the AirCar has a ballistic-activated parachute system.

Takeoff speed is listed as 65 knots, and performance is pegged at 92 knots’ cruise speed and a range of 540 nautical miles. A follow-on design is under development with a fully monocoque structure, constant-speed prop and a 300-HP engine being developed by Adept Airmotive. It is expected to have a cruise speed of 162 knots and a range of 540 nautical miles.

A team of eight “skilled specialists” invested more than 100,000 hours into the current AirCar development program to date, converting design drawings to mathematical models, using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis and wind-tunnel tests. The research program included designing a 1:1 prototype powered by a 15-kilowatt electric motor.

René Molnár, director of Slovakia’s Civil Aviation Division (the country’s transportation authority), said the agency “… carefully monitored all stages of AirCar development from its start in 2017. Safety is our highest priority. [The] AirCar combines top innovations with safety measures in line with EASA standards. Its certification was both a challenging and fascinating task.”

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. Yee Haw … a full electric version is imminent … I can now cancel my order for a new C8 Corvette, fly my air car right over traffic and save the planet in the process. Superb! Knowing the Slovak government tested it for 70 hours is very comforting, too.

    Once again, however, the performance specs and target price is omitted. Sure hope I can carry my family of four and the price is under a million?

  2. The biggest problem is the BMW 1.6, this engine as an engineer is a nightmare, the design is built to last no longer than 10000K after that good luck, used in the Mini, BMW car, Peugeot 308 model mostly parked in wrecking yards world wide. They Air Car would have been better in using the turbocharged 2 ltr Diesel out of the Peugeot more HP and lot less fuel burn. On the highway at 110klm they burn 4.2 ltrs per 100klm. 134HP large BHP, good for over 500K without a problem.

    • Chrysler enthusiasts say it took the expertise and muscle of the Chrysler company to double reliability and halve production cost of the Wright Cyclone engine in B-29 bombers. As second source they produced more than Wright did.

      The B-29 was pitiful in reliability and safety even by today’s military standards, pushed into full service too early because of need to reach battle locations in the Pacific, especially the homeland of Imperial Shinto. (Careful operation and skilled maintenance helped, especially with the turbo-compound design.)

      Later, the entrepreneurs who re-engined the underpowered Otter with a Polish radial were slowed by having chosen an unreliable engine, they switched to a better one from Poland but lost sales momentum with the delay. Turbine conversions were emerging, though much more expensive, the bushplane industry does not support high capital cost unless very well led in a good location (as Harbour Air and Kenmore Air were).

      (Obscure tidbit to throw in the face of ‘chemtrail’ conspiracy theorists – vapour trails are visible from the engines of B-29s flying quite high.)

      • Larger oil passages and a higher volume oil pump would go a long ways towards high power production. Turn your auto engine into a “race” engine and it’d make a huge difference in longevity in the air.

  3. Have to wonder if this is the equivalent of the Maritime practice of “flagging out”. When your own administration gets too hard to work with – you go flag in a different country who claim to work to the same Internationally accepted standards but are “easier” to work with.

    Which is why there is no UK merchant fleet worth talking about anymore.

    • Just offer production jobs. 😉

      Ask John DeLorean or Malcolm Bricklin how to do that.
      Oh, wait, …. 😮
      (Brickin failed when government of New Brunswick refused to invest more money.
      DeLorean sales were half of expected thus company was losing money, British government not eager to invest unless private money also found, deLorean caught in FBI sting about dealing in narcotics so guilty or not ruined his chances.)

      A standard tactic of aircraft maker wannabees, one project flipped around North America a few times, never got far.

      [The US law against sailing directly between two US ports in ship not built in the US has been temporarily suspended after Alaska lost much tourist business because Canadian gummint blocked cruise ships from docking for a day in Victoria BC during the panicdemic. Premier of BC was arrogant jerk about Alaska’s lobbying efforts, which succeeded and continue toward permanent removal of US law.]

    • Interesting point. I’m not getting an impression they are planning to manufacture this model anyways. Assuming they are legit since they are showing videos of the car both flying and transitioning, the Slovakian certification was likely an attempt to show they can get a certification at all.
      Likely looking for a company with manufacturing expertise to buy him and build the plane, but it seems no one wants the liability given likely low demand.
      Nattering Nabobs aside, the real problem with roadable aircraft is a combination of infrastructure, government, and need. You only need one if you regularly travel from a place near a runway to a place near a runway. Municipalities have been ripping out convenient airports for decades.
      Can anyone of us imagine sufficient, qualified people wanting one of these that the government gets pressured into adding airstrips and making regulations to suit them?

  4. Found one photo of it with wings folded somehow.

    Depending on lift from nose shape (may need retractable spoiler), NASCAR awaits.

    Remembering the Dodge Charger Daytona, very stable at high speed on big banked tracks because it had little lift so wheels stayed planted but yaw stability from rear fins. 😉

  5. Fantastic engineering and clever innovative design. In that way it reminds me of the rotary engine cars of the late 60’s. Problem is, will it be able to keep up with ever more stringent emissions and safety requirements from TWO “well meaning” bureaucracies? Mazda was overwhelmed by just one.

  6. “A team of eight ‘skilled specialists’ invested over 100,000 hours….”. Let’s see, the average worker in an eight-to-five job works about 2,000 hours a year, so eight would put in 16,000 hours a year. If they started some time in 2017, they must have been putting in some long days to exceed 100K in less than five years. And, the 70 hours of flight time doesn’t exactly give me a warm fuzzy feeling about its “thorough” testing. Maybe EASA is happy with that, but I suspect the FAA might want a little more.

  7. These kinds of roadable aircraft are not worth the time of day discussing their technical aspects. Research projects that benefit only those directly involved for as long as they can pull in money. Then they fade away or go on to the next fanciful endeavor.
    Remember Molt Taylor ? As close as anyone got.

    • Taylor wasn’t going for roadable was he? I’m pretty sure there have been working roadable planes before. IIRC, there was one for sale in the US a long time ago. I think the wings had to be towed on a trailer or left at the airport. Just didn’t sell well.

      • Um…

        Molt Taylor’s device was indeed roadable, that is the purpose of an ‘aerocar’.

        It was not high speed with wings folded, as they were supported by tiny wheels. I presume they could be fully removed to be a very small car for relatively short trips.

        Awkward in that wings had to be folded/unfolded, and propeller with shaft plugged into rear or removed and stowed. But it worked, was a simple light device.

        (Aerocars are limited, the Slovakian one sleek but looks heavy and complex. Appears that wings plug into slots in side of fuselage, with some kind of hatch there, for road they pull out and fold tight against rear of body.)