PAL-V flying three-wheeler being prepped for take off
Dutch flying car developer PAL-V is aiming to make good on its promise to be first to market. Following successful test flights and concerted efforts to meet European and US road and aviation standards, the company has announced that its taking reservations for its dual-engined Liberty three-wheel gyrocopter.
"After years of hard work, beating the technical and qualification challenges, our team succeeded in creating an innovative flying car that complies with existing safety standards, determined by regulatory bodies around the world," said Robert Dingemanse, CEO of PAL-V, in a press statement.
The PAL-V Liberty features a Rotax engine-based dual propulsion drivetrain – one engine for driving and another for flying – and has been designed to be about the same size as a "regular car," with the benefit of lowered suspension and tilting two person cockpit for leaning into the curves of the road.
In drive mode, the propeller is hidden away inside the vehicle's body while the blades are kept up top in roof box-like storage. PAL-V gives the Liberty's 100 HP drive mode engine a top speed as 160 km/h (100 mph), with a sprint up to 100 km/h (62 mph) taking 9 seconds. Fuel economy is rated at 7.6 l/100 km (31 mpg) and the driving range given as 1,315 km (817 miles).
When the time comes to take to the skies, the rotor mast unfolds automatically, but the driver/pilot will need to pull out the tail section and unfold the two rotor blades and break out the prop to prepare for flight. The mode switch process is reported to take between 5 and 10 minutes. After a brief pre-flight check, the pilot can head skyward to a maximum altitude of 3,500 m (11,480 ft).
In the air, the Liberty's 200 HP flying mode engine is reported to be about as loud as a small fixed-wing airplane and gives a maximum speed of 180 km/h (112 mph), an economic cruise speed of 140 km/h (87 mph) or a high cruise speed of 160 km/h, the latter sacrificing 10 percent of its range. That range could extend to up to 500 km (310 miles), though pilots may need to top up its 100 l (26.4 gal) fuel tank on landing. Once the vehicle touches down, the tail can be pushed back and the rotors and prop folded away for driving mode.
The Liberty is 4 m (13.1 ft) long and 1.7 m (5.4 ft) high in drive mode, extending to 6.1 m (13.1 ft) x 3.2 m (10.5 ft) for flight. The vehicle is 2 m (6.6 ft) wide regardless of mode, and the unfolded rotor diameter is 10.75 m (35.3 ft). It has an empty weight of 664 kg (1,413 lb).
As is common these days, the company has also developed a mobile app that compares travel using a PAL-V vehicle with more conventional modes of transport and will let users know what time savings have been made, as well as determining how many stops will be needed for long journeys and making travel recommendations.
The are two versions of the Liberty on offer. Pioneer Edition buyers will be able to personalize interior and exterior finishes and be the first to receive their vehicles. This flavor is priced at €499,000/US$599,000. The standard Sport model costs less, at €299,000/$399,000, but buyers will have to wait a little longer for delivery.
PAL-V is taking reservations for the Liberty now and expects to start making preproduction units later this year, with road and air-certified models set for delivery to customers by the end of 2018.
A driving license and a pilot's license will be needed to use the vehicle, and current regulations do not allow for take-off and landing just anywhere. The company says that "the PAL-V needs a space for take-off measuring about 90-200 by 20 meters (100-650 x 60 ft) without surrounding obstacles. In practice all small airstrips, aerodromes, glider sites and/or ultralight airfields will suffice. The PAL-V Liberty can operate from either concrete or grass airstrips. As the PAL-V popularity increases, it is expected that more and more small uncontrolled airstrips will be created. Many countries also allow for special permits on private property."
You can see a short teaser video below.