Flying cars have been in the news all over the world and competition is rife to produce the first commercial model. Besides finding the perfect balance between road and air capabilities, companies need to contend with legal, safety and regulatory issues. At this year’s Geneva Motor Show, Dutch company PAL-V certainly raised some eyebrows with their road-legal Liberty flying car.
Firmly in the driving seat of innovation, the PAL-V Liberty is set to undergo compliance demonstrations after the Geneva Motor Show. This is the final step in the certification process where we could very well see the world’s first flying car take to the skies as early as 2019. The Liberty was specially designed with European and US regulations in mind for both road and air which should stand them in good stead. According to Chief Engineer, Mike Stekelenberg:
“It takes a lot of testing to prove that the PAL-V Liberty complies with the regulations. Our design philosophy of complying with existing road and air regulations saved us many years in time to market. Instead of opting for a flying car concept on the basis of not yet existing or immature technologies, requiring new regulations, we deliberately chose to design, engineer and manufacture a flying car with proven technologies. This approach enables a realistic and imminent first product delivery date.”
Liberty Flying Car Features, Safety and Specifications
The original concept dates back almost 20 years as the PAL-V Liberty is essentially a three-wheeled, two-seater road vehicle with integrated folding rotors. Road use produces 100hp while the engines produce 200hp in the air. Take-off requires a runway length of around 300m with 15m for obstacle clearance. Transforming the Liberty from road to flight mode takes between five and ten minutes.
Safety has been a major talking point with every flying car but PAL-V Liberty conforms to the highest safety standards. They only use state of the art technologies and have partnered with leading manufacturers to guarantee quality at aviation standards. In the event of engine failure, PAL-V claims the Liberty can land in an area the size of a tennis court, using its ‘unpowered’ main rotor for a slow and steady descent.
Anyone with a driving license can operate the PAL-V Liberty but you’ll need a pilot’s license to take to the skies. Initial reports suggest that the cost of obtaining a pilot’s license is included in the original price. Whether or not pilots will receive a discount has not been confirmed as they are the likely initial target market.
Driving and Flying The PAL-V Liberty
On the road, the tilting three wheeled flying car produces 100hp using unleaded automotive fuel. Top speed is 160km/h (100mph) reaching 1315km (817 miles) on a full tank with relatively good fuel economy. Although the Liberty won’t break any track records, it still reaches 0-100km/h (0-60mph) in an impressive 9 seconds.
Once in the air, the two-seater PAL-V Liberty has a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 910kg or 2000 pounds. Baggage and fuel capacities (max 100 liters) essentially depends on the weight of the passengers. Maximum operating altitude is 3 500m reaching top speeds of 180km/h (110mph). Max range is 500km (310 miles) with half an hour reserve fuel.
Limited Edition Flying Car
According to PAL-V, many customers around the world are currently gaining autogyro experience at flight schools. They’re all preparing for delivery of the first commercial flying car as early as next year. PAL-V will launch two models – the limited-edition Pioneer at US$600 000 (£429,804) and the Liberty Sport edition $400,000 (£286,536).
There will only be 90 Pioneer editions with a $25,000 (£17,908) non-refundable deposit reserving your spot on the list. The Liberty Sport edition includes a non-refundable deposit of $10,000 or £7,163.
If you were not already a pilot, would you feel comfortable operating a flying car at that altitude? For the pilots out there, what are your thoughts on the PAL-V Liberty? What about the other flying cars currently in the pipeline?
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