What makes the 142nd landing of Klein Vision’s futuristic transport vehicle so special is that the AirCar was the first to complete an inter-city journey. Starting from a grass runway near Nitra this week, Klein’s Vision AirCar car/airplane hybrid arrived in Bratislava in 35 minutes. The same road journey takes almost 100 kilometres and, in ideal conditions, just over an hour. And the difference between the two modes of travel could be even more striking, as the startup intends to commercialise a significantly more powerful version at some point in the not-too-distant future.
The AirCar, completing its 142nd test flight, landed on the runway at Bratislava airport and immediately demonstrated the power of the concept, folding its wings in less than three minutes to join the road traffic and head for the centre of the Slovak capital.
The demonstration flight was carried out by one of the company’s founders and chief designers. Stefan Klein designed the first hybrid car-plane in 1989, followed seven years later by the Aeromobile II, which could be modified (e.g. with removable wings) to switch between airplane and car mode. This concept has been completed in the current model. Klein Vision was founded in 2011 and its current vehicle made its first test flights in 2018.
The first-generation prototype is a two-seater car powered by a 160 hp, 1.6-litre BMW engine, which can fly at an altitude of up to 2,500 metres at a speed of 190 km/h with propeller drive. The vehicle has an unladen weight of 1,100 kg and can carry a payload of 200 kg, burning 18 litres of fuel per hour. The pre-production model, among other major improvements, is planned to have a 300 hp engine, which will allow it to soar through the skies at 300 km/h and cover distances of up to 1,000 km in a single run.
Klein Vision are very confident in their concept, which is adapted to current transport habits, but in its current state it is only aimed at wealthy drivers with a pilot’s licence. Admittedly, this is not necessarily a small audience, with 40,000 orders placed for small jets every year in the US alone. The startup’s leaders believe that if just 5 percent of these are open to the hybrid solution, they have a winning case.