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Flying Car Certified for Use in Slovakia

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Humans has been dreaming of flying cars since the early 1900s, and they’ve trying to build them for almost as long. Numerous prototypes have been produced over the years; the technology even came close to becoming a reality in the middle of the last century with the Convair Model 118.

The pace has picked up in the domain in recent years and with the technology now available to engineers, it is only a matter of time before we see several models on the market. How free they’ll be to move around is another matter, however.

A first jurisdiction has just given its thumbs up to a flying car: Slovakia. According to the folks at Klein Vision, the company behind the AirCar prototype we’ve met before, their car capable of transforming into a small plane has passed flight tests administered it by authorities.

The AirCar received an official certificate of airworthiness from the Slovak Transport Authority after undergoing 70 hours of rigorous flight tests, according to Klein Vision.

The test flights, which included more than 200 takeoffs and landings, were compatible with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) standards, the company said via a press release issued this week.

“The tests included the full range of flight manoeuvres”, the firm said, and it added that its car/plane “demonstrated amazing static and dynamic stability in aircraft mode.”

A Klein Vision spokesperson told CNN that a pilot's license is required to operate the hybrid vehicle, and added that his company hopes to commercialize the AirCar within the next 12 months.

Design
A team of eight specialists spent more than 100,000 hours converting design concepts into mathematical models that led to the production of the prototype.

The AirCar is powered by a 1.6L BMW engine and runs on fuel that can be found... at any gas station. The vehicle can fly at a maximum altitude of 18,000 feet.

In June, the flying car made a 35-minute test flight between the airports of Nitra and the Slovak capital of Bratislava. After landing, the aircraft turned into a car and was simply driven to the centre of the city.

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The AirCar, on the road
Photo: Klein Vision
The AirCar, on the road

“AirCar certification opens the door for mass production of very efficient flying cars,” said test pilot Stefan Klein, inventor of the car and head of the development team.

Other such vehicles are in development, such as the PAL-V Liberty, a gyroplane developed by Dutch company PAL-V and which transforms into a road vehicle. That prototype has received a full certification basis from the EASA and has been approved by the Dutch Ministry of the Environment. It only needs to pass the final "demonstration of compliance" stage, according to the company's website.

U.S. company Terrafugia has obtained a Certificate of Airworthiness from the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) for its Transition vehicle.

Slowly but surely, we’re moving towards an era in which we’ll start seeing models such as these on the market. Many see them as alternatives to helicopters or other short-distance transportation, for instance airport shuttles.

And eventually, we will see all-electric flying vehicles, it feels inevitable.