The world's first flying car is coming to town
And it's orange
We've been talking about flying cars for a while now and it looks like we're getting close. Maybe. The problem with flying cars is that once you've perfected the technology you need, which we haven't, you need to sort out the legal challenges that come from having cars flying over your head. If I had a dollar for everytime somebody "flying cars are the next big thing", I would now be able to afford a flying car. Still, while we're still (many) years away from widespread adoption, we're at least making some progress in terms of actually getting these cars on the road. And in the air.
The car in question is called 'Liberty', built by a Dutch company called PAL-V, and it has recently been approved for road usage, which means it is now being tested in the real world. The first prototype (pictured below) completed flying and driving tests back in 2012 and the production vehicle was first unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, before undergoing yet another round of tests. Earlier this year, in February, the company spent hours and hours testing the final production vehicle around the track for noise pollution, brake and high-speed and endurance tests and so on and so forth.
Mike Stekelenburg, CTO at PAL-V, said the company has been "cooperating with the road authorities for many years to reach this milestone. The excitement you feel in the team is huge. It was very challenging to make a folded aircraft pass all road admission tests". Hans Joore, the test driver who actually got behind the wheel of the PAL-V, said the vehicle feels "magnificent. It is very smooth and responsive to the steering and with a weight of just 660 kg it accelerates really well. The overall experience is like a sportscar. It feels sensational".
If you think road homologation is serious and complicated, wait until you hear what it takes to get approval from aviation authorities. For obvious safety reasons, the world of aviation is subject to universal rules and regulations that are completely different, and much more stringent, when compared to everything else including cars, trains and boats.
PAL-V have been testing the Liberty for five years to obtain all necessary certifications from the EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency. Over 1,200 test reports need to be completed and that's just to gain access to the final 150 hours of flight testing. Then, and only then, can the vehicle be considered road and, well, flight legal and deliveries can commence. PAL-V say this is going to happen in 2022 which, in my humble opinion, is a bit optimistic. But I digress.
PAL-V say the number of reservations has exceeded expectations and they also say that, as things stand, 80% of future owners are going to be new to aviation, which means they're going to have to train for gyroplane flying to get a license at the PAL-V FlyDrive Academy.
If I could afford it, which I can't because no one has given me the dollars I earned by listening to people saying "flying cars are coming", I'd definitely buy one because A, it looks cool and B, I don't like my neighbours and I'm always looking for new ways to annoy them. This would definitely work.