A Flying Car Was Officially Cleared to Fly by Slovakia's Authorities

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Slovakian aviation firm Klein Vision's AirCar can fly at speeds of over 100 mph (160 km/h) and reach altitudes of 8,000 ft (2,500 m). And now, it has officially been cleared to fly by the Slovak Transport Authority. 

The flying car, which can switch from flight to driving mode in less than three minutes once on the ground, received a certificate of airworthiness following 70 hours of flight testing, a press statement from the company reveals.

In an interview with Interesting Engineering, Klein Vision co-founder Anton Zajac told us "the certification has demonstrated we have the skills and ability to deliver a flying car that meets the EASA safety standards and is technologically solid."

AirCar production model to begin testing this year

"Our next step is to build a new prototype, which will have a new aviation engine, Zajac continued. The co-founder explained that this engine has already been tested and the Prototype 2 "will be a monocoque construction with a variable pitch propeller." 

In a previous statement, Klein Vision said its Prototype 2 (P2) will feature a 300-horsepower engine and reach cruise speeds of up to 186 mph (300km/h) and it will have a range of approximately 620 miles (1000km). "We want to start testing P2 this year and get it certified early 2023. P2 will be the production model," Zajac explained. That draws up the very real possibility that people might be able to own their own flying cars in the near future, a longer-range competitor to the eVTOL aircraft being developed by flying taxi and urban air mobility firms. 

70 hours and over 200 takeoffs and landings

Klein Vision's current prototype features an internal combustion BMW engine that runs on regular fuel. The company says it takes only two minutes and 15 seconds to transform from a car into an aircraft when on the runway. The main safety measure in the case of an engine failure is a ballistic parachute system.

The certification was granted after the "completion of 70 hours of rigorous flight testing compatible with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) standards, with over 200 takeoffs and landings," KleinVision said in its statement. In June, the company performed its first inter-city flight, a 35-minute trip between the international airports of Nitra and Bratislava.

In the statement, Klein Vision's other founder, Stefan Klein said the certification "opens the door for mass production of very efficient flying cars" and that this is something that will "change mid-distance travel forever." It will be interesting to see the development and the public response to the AirCar, especially as the aviation industry increasingly aims to curb its carbon emissions, and eVTOL flying taxi firms such as Lilium and Volocopter promise to revolutionize urban air mobility with low-emissions flight. Boeing, for example, recently announced it will invest $450 million towards building a fully autonomous all-electric eVTOL flying taxi.

With that in mind, we asked Zajac how he believed the AirCar will compete with the oncoming surge of eVTOL aircraft: "AirCar is a completely different category of vehicle," Zajac replied. "Whereas AirCar is fully taking advantage of the aerodynamic forces during flight and the lifting force is generated by fixed wings and [its] lifting body, the VTOLs are [essentially] helicopters. As a result, VTOL vehicles have low energy efficiency, shorter range, and smaller cruising speeds. I believe both will be used side by side for different purposes." The question does remain on how many people will be willing to shell out for a flying car that needs access to a runway for takeoff. With Morgan Stanley predicting the flying car sector will be worth $1.5 trillion by 2040 and KleinVision having flight certification under its wings, we may be very close to finding out.

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