The Slovakian-built experimental vehicle AirCar has obtained the necessary certification to fly. The amphibious vehicle, powered by a petrol-powered BMW engine, can reach speeds of up to 160 kilometres per hour and a flight altitude of over 2,500 metres, reports the BBC. Before take-off, the vehicle switches to flight mode, which lasts 2 minutes 15 seconds.
To obtain certification, the AirCar flew more than 70 hours, including more than 200 take-offs and landings.
“AirCar certification could pave the way for mass production of high-efficiency flying cars. This was the official and final confirmation that we have the ability to change the world of medium-range travel forever.”- said Professor Stefan Klein, designer of the AirCar.
In June, the flying car made the trip between Opatija and Bratislava airports in 35 minutes. But this is just the beginning: a company spokesman told the BBC that they are already preparing for the London-Paris trip.
The AirCar is not the only aircraft that can be used on public roads: the PAL-V Liberty, a tricycle that can also be used as a gyrocopter, has also been granted a European road licence and is working with the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency to obtain certification.
According to Dr Steve Wright, a leading researcher in aeronautical and aerospace systems at the University of the West of England, it is unlikely that there will be mass demand for flying vehicles.
“Are flying cars really the future? Yes and no. The personal travel revolution is certainly knocking on the door, but no one is waiting on pins and needles. From a transport point of view, it’s a curiosity – albeit a very interesting one”- wright told the BBC.
The AirCar takes off and lands in much the same way as a small plane; it is no coincidence that you need a pilot’s licence to use it, not a licence. But several companies are already working on driverless air taxi services; these typically fly autonomously and can take off and land vertically.
Proponents of flying cars argue that these vehicles can be a fast and convenient means of transport and as such attract investors. On Monday, Boeing also announced an additional $450 million in funding for Wisk, a California-based air taxi company. The company is jointly owned by Boeing and Google co-founder Larry Page’s new company, Kitty Hawk.