Flying car: it’s here, but is it for you?

Aeromobil 3.0 - British Gas Business

Like something straight out of a science fiction film, the Aeromobil 3.0 is the latest prototype from the Slovakian start-up of the same name.  Recently unveiled at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna, and dubbed by its own makers as ‘the world’s most advanced flying car’, it’s already been put to the test in the skies and roads of Slovakia. What’s more, the car has been pre-certified by Slovakia’s Civil Aviation Authority, meaning it might one day appear in the public domain.

Is it a car?  Is it a plane?  In a word: yes.

The Aeromobil 3.0 prototype at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna

How does it work?

On the road, Aeromobil largely functions as a normal car: four wheels, two seats and one engine.  It even runs on standard petrol.  But in a matter of seconds, its two collapsible wings unfold to a wingspan of over 8 metres, while its tail-mounted propeller can drive its steel framework and carbon-fibre shell through a take-off that only requires about 200m of runway.

Inside the cockpit, it boasts a dual-navigation system that allows the driver – or pilot – to switch between steering wheel and air-controls. While the flying car also has an autopilot and an advanced parachute deployment system.  But futuristic marvels mean very little without the specifications to back it up.

What can it do?

At just 600kg, this lightweight vessel’s 100-horsepower engine can achieve top speeds of over 124mph in the air, while still hitting the 100mph mark on the ground.  It has a flying range of 430 miles, or four hours in the sky – enough to make a trip from London to Aberdeen.  It may even be a more cost-efficient solution for frequent middle-length travellers. Once in gliding flight mode, it’s said to be more energy-efficient than many road cars.

And, of course, in fitting with its hybrid nature, it’s small enough to fit into the average parking space.  Which means that, theoretically, you could leave your house, drive to the airport, take a flight, land in another airport, and drive to a meeting – all without leaving your own vehicle.

Sounds great.  So, where can I buy one?

Sadly, you can’t just yet.  The latest prototype – the fourth iteration of Aeromobil’s road-worthy plane – is still only a prototype.  Even after it passes the myriad tests of international legislation, you’d still need a pilot’s licence to operate it.   And, with an estimated price of around £170,000, it’s unlikely to be a realistic solution to the average person’s commuting problems.

Interestingly, its makers seem to have their sights set on markets beyond the West.  A number of African and Asian countries with less-developed road infrastructure – and less tightly-regulated airspace – could be more likely to see the benefits of moving traffic to the skies.

Stefan Vadocz, head of public relations at Aeromobil, commented ‘When you can fly, it’s more time-efficient than cars or waiting at the airport for a short flight.  You also consume less fuel.  And compared to small airplanes, you don’t have to rent a hangar and other maintenance costs.  When people start to realise how much they are bound to existing infrastructure, they’ll want more options.’

Is this the future of economical and convenient air travel?  Or simply another vanity vehicle for wealthy playboys?  Leave your comments below.

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