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AirCar navigates course to viable flying cars

Flying cars could be moving closer to production following the successful 35-minute flight of AirCar Prototype 1, a Slovakian dual-mode car-aircraft that currently runs on a BMW engine.

AirCar, the brainchild of Professor Stefan Klein, co-founder of Klein Vision, this week (June 28, 2021) marked a key stage in its development when it undertook the flight from Nitra Airport to Bratislava Airport where it made its 142nd successful landing.

After landing, the fixed propeller aircraft transformed at the click of a button into a sports car in under three minutes before being driven by Prof Klein and company co-founder Anton Zajac into Bratislava. According to Klein Vision, the entire journey was cut by a factor of two.

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The transition is made possible by over 20 programmable servo motors and Zajac believes further optimisation will quicken the transformation from aircraft to car to one minute and two seconds. At 5.2m, AirCar is the same length of a Mercedes S-Class, but 2cm narrower.

To get into the air the two-seater AirCar needs 300m of runway before lifting off at around 120km/h.

“We only have 1.6l engine in this prototype and it has 160HP, so it’s actually a very weak engine,” said Zajac. “Yet we are able to take-off, land, and drive like a sports car. We flew to 8,200 feet and, at 45 per cent power, achieved speeds of about 100mph.”

Under the supervision of the Civil Aviation Authority, AirCar has completed over 40 hours of test flights, including steep 45 degree turns and stability and manoeuvrability testing. Zajac added that AirCar handles like a Cessna or similarly sized small aircraft and does not require the pilot to undergo any additional flight training.

AirCar Prototype 1 (Image: Klein Vision)

The wings on AirCar are, however, shorter than those on a Cessna due to the design of the semi-monocoque (metal tubing and carbon fibre) fuselage, which generates 30-40 per cent lift to the whole vehicle.

“That made it possible to use shorter wings and, as a result, the transformation from a car into aircraft mode is very efficient,” said Zajac. “The size of the resulting car is such that you can use your garage or any commercial parking spot.”

Looking forward, Zajac said the pre-production AirCar Prototype2 will be built with a monocoque fuselage. Klein Vision added that it will be equipped with a 300HP engine and receive the EASA CS-23 aircraft certification with an M1 road permit. With its variable pitch propeller, the Prototype 2 is expected to have a cruise speed of 300km/h (162kt) and range of 1000km (621mi).

AirCar Prototype2 will be demonstrated in a flight between Paris and London.