AirCar, a prototype flying car, has successfully completed a 35-minute test flight between international airports in Nitra and Bratislava, Slovakia.
The vehicle, which is a hybrid car-aircraft equipped with a BMW engine running on regular petrol-pump fuel, was driven by its creator, Professor Stefan Klein, who drove it straight off the runway and into Bratislava town. Spectators and invited reporters watched as he made the journey early last Monday morning, which he described as “normal” and “very pleasant”.
According to Klein, AirCar can fly about 1,000km at a height of 8,200ft and has so far clocked 40 hours in the air. The vehicle can carry two people, with a combined weight limit of 200kg and during the test flight cruised at a speed of 170km/h. Unlike drone-taxi prototypes, AirCar cannot take off and land vertically but instead requires a runway. The car takes just two minutes and 15 seconds to transform from car into aircraft, and after flight the narrow wings fold down along the sides of the car.
2. Potential market
Klein Vision, the company which created AirCar, says the prototype took about two years to develop and cost “less than 2m euros” (£1.7m) in investment. Flying cars have long been a visionary landmark of the future and the market for them is expected to be huge. In 2019, consultant company Morgan Stanley predicted the sector could be worth $1.5trillion by 2040 whilst Hyundai Motors Europe chief executive Michael Cole has called the concept ‘part of our future’. This type of vehicle is considered a potential solution to the strain on existing transport infrastructures.
Anton Zajac, an adviser and investor in Klein Vision, stated that if the company could attract even a small part of global airline or taxi sales, it would be hugely successful. ‘There are about 40,000 orders of aircraft in the United States alone’ he explained, ‘And if we convert 5% of those, to change the aircraft for the flying car – we have a huge market.’