• Flying cars are coming sooner than you think

      March 11, 2018    

    The PAL-V Liberty, a car and gyroplane rolled into one, was unveiled at the Geneva motor show.Robert Dingemanse has heard the comparisons many, many times. The Jetsons, Harry Potter, James Bond.

    As CEO of a Dutch company developing a flying car, he's used to curious people whose only frame of reference for his new vehicle comes from cartoons or movies.

    But as of this week, Dingemanse's dream of letting commuters (albeit well-heeled ones) choose whether to drive or fly to work comes a significant step closer. He is unveiling the first production model of the PAL-V Liberty, a 3-wheeled, 2-seat car and gyroplane rolled into one, at the Geneva motor show.

    "Flying cars have been in movies many, many times and they will be available next year," Dingemanse said.

    The PAL-V Liberty is one of several flying cars in development around the world such as The Transition, a folding wing 2-seater being developed by US-based Terrafugia, and an all-electric vertical take-off and landing jet being developed by German startup Lilium.

    In the air, the PAL-V is pushed forward by a rear mounted propeller driven by 2 engines. It is stabilised by a larger roof-mounted rotor that bolsters safety.

    "The rotor is not powered," Dingemanse said, "so it's actually a parachute which is always available."

    Its makers say the PAL-V will drive at up to 170 kilometers per hour, fly up to 180 kmh and can fly about 500 kilometers on a single tank of regular unleaded gas.

    Land it and the rotor and propeller fold away, the tail retracts and the PAL-V is ready to drive. Switching from road to aircraft mode takes about 10 minutes, including performing the necessary checks, the company says.

    With a price tag expected to be around ?500,000 ($615,000) for the first production run of 90, the flying cars are not for everybody, but Dingemanse said he has plenty of buyers lined up. They will have to become certified gyroplane pilots to take their PAL-V into the sky and the company is offering training courses too.

    Just don't expect this flying car to lift off vertically if it gets caught in a traffic jam. The PAL-V needs a short runway or grass airstrip to take off and land.

    With the first production model of the car now ready, the company can begin the final stages of certification with road and aviation authorities in Europe and elsewhere. - AP


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