This is a vehicle capable of flight but it can also use ordinary roads to travel on. The more correct term would be: roadable aircraft. Basically it inherits certain properties of a car and airplane to combine them in one unique hybrid design.
In the past there were a lot of attempts to build a flying car with the idea that you could takeoff whenever and were ever you like and fly to your destination without traffic problems. In reality, after takeoff, you become a pilot and therefore you need not only a drivers license but a license to fly too.
This page shows the attempts that have been made in the past until recent times to make these aircraft/car/motorbike hybrids to be able to drive on roads and fly in the air. Note: most of these designs have been under development at least 10 years or so.
There were several attempts to design and market a flying car: Waterman Aerobile (1937), Aerocar (1949) six were built and one is flying and the wings are towed behind the car when traveling on roads. Ave Mizar (1971), a combination of a Cessna Skymaster and a Ford Pinto. It proved to be a very bad design that killed its designer and the pilot in 1973. The Aerocar 2000 is a spring-off from this, see further below.
A design that has been under development quite a number of years is the Moller Skycar M400X. This one is unable to be driven on roads. It
is more like a vertical takeoff and landing device than a car. It uses Wankel or rotary type engines, totaling 720 hp with a top speed of 579 km/h! For flight its totally dependent on its engines and has no wing surface area to speak off. See image to the left from Moller.com.
They have filed for protection under the Chapter 11 in 2009. Another expensive dream.
Somewhere in between 2009 and 2017 they continued and developed the Skycar 200 and Skycar 400. These designs now have small wings. They also are working with small drones like a flying saucer and are aming on the military market.
Some designs are more or less successful, resulting in a hybrid form of a car, motorbike or buggy with either wings (foldable or not) and an airplane or parachute.
This is a combination of a motorbike and a gyrocopter. The designer used a Carver and built a foldable gyrocopter rotor on top of it. As long as there are low numbers of PAL-Vs flying they can use uncontrolled airspace and airports. Larger numbers would require special low level lanes near highways and small PAL-V ports where they can land. I wonder if municipalities will agree to that.
This gyrocopter has been flown early 2012 in the Netherlands (on April 1st, no pun intended :-). You need a motorbike/car license and at least a recreational pilot license with rotorcraft rating to fly it. It also needs a certain amount of runway to takeoff. Anyway you look at it, its an aircraft or better: a gyrocopter. See image to the left from pal-v.com.
Preproduction: maximum power is 230 hp with an astonishing fuel consumption of 36 l/h in flight at a gross weight of 910 kg. Even a C-172 can do better than that. Their production model (Liberty) now uses a Rotax 912iS and another engine but still uses 26 l/h. Expected delivery in 2020. So thats 20 years of development.
It flew in 2009 and its a car with foldable wings. It needs a fair amount of runway (1700') and has been flight tested ever since. The cockpit houses dual controls, car steering wheel and an cockpit like panel with instrumentation. The engine is a Rotax 912S and runs on normal car fuel (mogas). The FAA has it registered as a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA). Delays due to production design challenges and problems with third party suppliers has slipped possible delivery into late 2012 / early 2013. According to their latest press release, production should start in 2019.
On March, 23th 2012 Terrafugia flew one of their production models on a short 8 minute flight at an altitude of 1400 feet. It has been quiet around this project until they presented another vision of a concept flying car early 2013. For the latest information, click here on the fact sheet 2018.
April 2019: The original founders have stepped away from the company five months after Terrafugia was acquired by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. Most of the leadership within Terrafugia was also replaced by staff based in China. Read more in the article by FlightGlobal on Terrafugia.
2011-2015: Still in concept phase, there is only a small scale model. But they claim it can transfer between car and aircraft mode in 15 seconds. It uses electric drive in road-mode (heavy batteries?) and a piston engine for both road range extension and during flight. The aircraft was presented to the public at AERO 2015.
There are two seats, separated in two cockpits (can you give me that map please?). The reason for this is to create the best aerodynamic design possible. Anyway, for some pilots and passengers it might get a bit lonely.
A very beautiful design and attempt to create a two-seat roadable aircraft with folding wings. The company has been developing this for almost 10 years and the vehicle once used a Rotax 912 engine for its propulsion. These days they offer a custom build 2.0 turbo charged engine (224 kW or 300 hp) in combination with an electric front wheel drive. Its weight is about 960 kg. More info at: Aeromobil.com
From the website: "Aeromobil is a 'flying car' that perfectly makes use of existing infrastructure created for automobiles and planes, and opens doors to real door-to-door travel. In terms of automobile configuration, it fits to a standard parking space, its engine enables it to tank at any gas station, it is fully accustomed to road traffic and as a plane it could both takeoff and land at any airport in the world."
The company has presented its fourth version of the 1.3 million dollar car with an expected launch date somewhere in 2020. Click here for the image of Aeromobil 4.0. Version 5 is a VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing), still a concept. They see it as a future electric 4-seater flying taxi, launch date around 2025.
These designs are a combination of a small buggy, paramotor and parafoil. In flight the carriage is suspended under the parafoil. Build by Parajet Automotive and is in production. Basically it a parachute with a buggy, no wings at all and limited to very nice weather flying like those paragliders you see in mountain ranges.
The I-TEC Maverick is a non profit organization and they are building the dune buggy under I-FLY program with an everglades airboat propeller attached to a buggy and parachute. The company is called Beyond Roads LLC and they sell the Maverick from Florida. As a car its licenced in the US only and very basic without any oocupant protection like airbags. As an aircraft its slow enabling it to land on very short runways.
Based on the early Aerocar this design uses a genuine car (Lotus Elise) with a detachable flying section to provide lift. It has two engines, one for the road (Lotus V8 twin turbo) and one in the flying section. Coolant is shared between the engines so that the passengers can enjoy a heated cabin during flight.
This is a nice looking design although it would fit only one type of car and can be expected to be reasonably heavy. The basic car needs to be modified to be able to control and carry the flying surfaces of the airplane section.
This company is designing a tactical vehicle on a request from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with a range of 400 km at road speeds up to 120 km/h and 50 km/h on rough terrain. Airspeeds should be around 250 km/h at an altitude of 10000 feet (3 km) carrying 500 kg. Resembles a four place gyrocopter, see the PAL-V above.
Source EAA: Rick Johnson, of Palm City - Florida, build himself an Avid Magnum and converted it to be road-able. So he spent the last eight years and 10000 hours building it. The design uses a 400cc, four-stroke, water-cooled, 32-hp Suzuki engine that was also modified to allow for reverse drive. The engine used for flying is 2,5 L Subaru engine with a RFI belt-reduction drive and a Prince Aircraft two blade propeller. More info here: http://www.eaa.org/news/2011/2011-05-26_roadable.asp.
This is an one off design, no commercial plans. You will need a pilots license and a driver license with a motorcycle endorsement.