Klein Vision celebrates maiden flight of its transforming AirCar
Remember the Aeromobil flying car that hit Top Marques Monaco back in 2017? The Aeromobil's original inventor and designer Stefan Klein left that company in 2016, and has been working on another design with a new company called Klein Vision, also based in Slovakia.
Now, Klein Vision has released video footage of its prototype roadable aircraft's maiden flight. Like the Aeromobil, it's a full four-wheeled car design with two seats and it flies on wide wings using a pusher prop. This time, the wings fold in and out with an up-and-over motion, and while it's hard to think exactly why that'd be better than the Aeromobil's scissor-out wings, the process is still fully push-button automatic – so you won't have to jump out and do any manual fiddling about like you would with a Pal-V.
The new AirCar's tail extends a couple of feet in flight mode to make room for the wings and pulls back in on the ground to make it slightly less unwieldy on the road. It'll still be an odd duck on the highway, though, and parking the thing will certainly be entertaining.
There's little further information available at this stage, in terms of engine types, drive systems, top speeds or range figures on the ground or in flight, but Klein Vision says this lightweight composite body layout will support three- and four-seat versions, a twin-prop version and even an amphibious version in case you need to fly, drive AND float. What, no skis? Lazy. Just lazy.
It's certainly cool to watch this thing transform, and to see this weird-looking car take to the air. But as Pal-V is now very aware, in a commercial sense engineering and even building a prototype device that flies, transforms and drives can actually be the easy bit. The hard part starts when you try to get it certified, first as a car and then as an airplane, so you can sell it and people can actually use it. This is a long, arduous and cripplingly expensive process, and much worse for four-wheelers like the AirCar than for three-wheelers like the Pal-V. And it's hard to see how any company will achieve the kind of sales volumes you'd need to justify the expense.
What's more, most airplanes aren't subjected to the rigors of road use; something as simple as an accidental bump in a car park might just leave an annoying dent in a regular car, but could have fatal consequences if it's expected to function as an aircraft as well. Pre-flight checks on these things will need to be thorough.
Still, this takes nothing away from Stefan Klein's achievement to this point. The man has built quite a few more flying cars than you or I have, and whatever challenges may lie ahead, they do appear to work, even if they do look a tad front-heavy on takeoff to this untrained eye. He's been at this caper for about 20 years now, so he has to rank among the world's foremost experts on this kind of technology, and we can only hope he persists to the point where he can get one of these things onto the market.
Enjoy the AirCar's maiden flight video below.
Source: Klein Vision