- Zoe Kleinman
- Technology Correspondent, BBC
The flying car has taken off.
AirCar, a prototype hybrid auto-plane, has completed a 35-minute flight between the international airports of Nitra and Bratislava, in Slovakia.
It is equipped with a BMW engine and runs on regular fuel.
Its creator, Slovakian engineer and pilot Stefan Klein, said it can fly about 1,000 km at an altitude of 2,500 meters, and has so far logged 40 hours in the air.
Only need 2 minutes and 15 seconds to transform into an airplane.
A “very pleasant” experience
After the flight, its narrow wings folded to the sides.
Klein pulled him off the track and led him straight into town, under the gaze of some reporters invited to the event.
He described the experience, early Monday, as “very pleasant.”
In the air, the vehicle reached a cruising speed of 170 km/h.
It can carry two people, with a combined weight limit of 200 kg.
But, unlike drone-taxi prototypes, it cannot take off and land vertically and requires from a track.
There are high expectations in the nascent flying car market, something that was long seen in popular culture as a milestone to be achieved.
In 2019, consulting firm Morgan Stanley predicted that the sector could be worth US$1,5 trillion by 2040.
And at an industry event on Tuesday, Hyundai Motors Europe CEO Michael Cole called the concept “part of our future.”
It is considered a possible solution to the pressure on the existing transport infrastructures.
“A huge market”
The company behind AirCar, Klein Vision, founded by Stefan Klein, says the prototype took about two years to develop and that “less than € 2 million” was invested in it. (unos US$2,4 millions).
Anton Rajac, an advisor and investor at Klein Vision, said that if the company could attract even a small percentage of global airline or taxi sales, I would haveto great success.
“There are about 40,000 aircraft orders in the United States alone,” he said.
“And if we manage to change the plane for the flying author in 5% of them, we have a huge market.”
Stephen Wright, a senior researcher in avionics (electronics applied to aircraft) and aircraft at the University of the West of England, described the AirCar as “the natural child of a Bugatti Veyron and a Cessna 172.”
And he doesn’t think the vehicle is going to be particularly noisy or wasteful in terms of fuel costs, compared to other jets.
“I have to admit that it looks very interesting, but I have hundreds of doubts about certification“, dijo Wright.
“Anyone can make an airplane; the trick is to make one that flies and flies for hours with one person on board without having an accident.”
“I am looking forward to seeing the document that certifies that it is safe to fly and to market.”
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.