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Flying Cars

Flying Cars, Several Designs

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.

From the past up until now, there were/are 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.

Past to present Designs

Flying Cars

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.

Moller Skycar

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 Flying Cars 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 aiming for the military market.

Recent flyable attempts

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.

Carver - Gyrocopter, PAL-V


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.

Pre-production: 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.

Terrafugia Transition

Terrafugia Transition

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.

Jan 2021: Terrafugia Transition has received its SLSA Airworthiness Certificate. "Terrafugia says intends to produce and sell the flight-only version with the goal of having the vehicle both sky- and road-legal by 2022." was published by AVweb. It is equipped with a Dynon SkyView and a Rotax 912iS. For more info follow the next link: Terrafugia certified.

Feb 2021: AVweb reports that 80-100 people have been layed off at the company headquarters in Woburn, Massachusetts. They also plan to close down operations in the U.S. later this year in favor of moving to China. Read more in the next article: Layoffs at Terrafugia.

We think this is the end for this project.

Carplane GmbH, Germany

2011-2015: Still in concept phase, there is only a small scale model. But they claim it can transfer between car and aircraft mode Carplane GmbH, Germany 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.

More images can be seen here (opens in a new window/tab): Road and Fly mode, Road mode, Taxi mode or Take off mode. For more information please check the website of: Carplane GmbH.

AirCar, Slovakia

Aircar Klein Vision

This one looks a lot like the Aeromobil from Slovakia. The owner Stefan Klein originally started at Aeromobil, hence the similarity. The first flight was in July 2021 and the AirCar is equipped with a 160-HP BMW engine and features an automated transition time of less than three minutes, so they say.

From the outside it looks a lot like the Aeromobil. Lets hope it will be cheaper. The two-seat AirCar Prototype 1 has now flown for over 40 hours, and reaching altitudes of up to 8,200 feet with a top speed of 190 km/h (103 knots). According to Klein Vision, the Prototype 2 model will be equipped with a 300 HP engine and capable of a 300 km/h (162 knot) cruise speed with a 1000 km (540 NM) range. More info at the website of: Klein Vision.com

Jan 2022: The company received its EASA Certificate of Airworthiness from the Slovakian aviation authorities. AVweb published the story: AirCar CoA.

Aeromobil, Slovakia

Aeromobil, Slovakia

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 hybrid propulsion system with a turbocharged internal combustion engine (224 kW or 300 hp) in combination with an electric front wheel drive. Solar panels are on the wings. 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 1.5 million dollar car with an expected launch date somewhere in 2020 2023. 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.

Samson Sky Switchblade

SamsonSky Switchblade

A unique design (10 years in the making and est. 600,000 usd limited edition) where the wings fold forward under the fuselage in car mode for road use. It is powered by a gasoline car engine and promises 126 mph on the road and 190 mph when flying. Its still in the prototype design phase, but it looks like a really nice concept. One to keep an eye or two on, more at www.samsonsky.com.

The company has now over 300 reservations (mid 2019) and 70 customers who pre-purchased 'The Switchblade'. A five blade Sterna propeller is used for flying mode. Propulsion was a 190 bhp V4 engine but the company switched to a three cylinder engine early 2021 and now offers the original V4 again. Some specifications: fuel, mogas 30 USG (114 l), MTOW 1750 lbs (794 kg), cruise 160 mph/ 138 kts (257 km/h), range 450 sm/ 391 nm (724 km).

Parajet Skycar

Parajet Skycar and I-TEC Maverick

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 licensed in the US only and very basic without any occupant protection like airbags. As an aircraft its slow enabling it to land on very short runways.

Aerocar 2000

Aerocar 2000

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.

AVX Aircraft Company Flying Car

AVX Aircraft Company

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.

Avid Magnum Roadable Aircraft

Avid Magnum

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.

Written by EAI.

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