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Aeromobil Flying Car Prototype Gets Off the Ground For the First Time 56

Zothecula writes "There is a saying in flying: 'If it looks good, it will fly well.' Stefan Klein, a designer from the Slovak Republic, has announced the first flight of his Aeromobil Version 2.5, a flying car prototype he has been developing over the last 20 years. This vehicle is a strikingly beautiful design with folding wings and a propeller in the tail. But will its flight capabilities match its looks?"
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Aeromobil Flying Car Prototype Gets Off the Ground For the First Time

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  • by GrandCow ( 229565 ) on Friday October 18, 2013 @05:41PM (#45170045)

    I've been checking up on the company every couple years since the 90's, and every time they redesign it just gets closer to a small plane with retractable wings. I guess that's to be expected though, since we've had 100 years to come up with a good design. Every new design has also moved away from the space of being in a road vehicle and become more and more cramped like in a cockpit.

    At what point does it stop being a compact car and just become a plane that can be stored in smaller places? It's not like he can just take off from the road, he still needs an airport. Doesn't that defeat the entire purpose of a flying car?

    • by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Friday October 18, 2013 @05:50PM (#45170137)

      Doesn't that defeat the entire purpose of a flying car?

      No. The purpose of a flying car is to extract money from the gullible, and they've been performing splendidly at that for many years.

      • This would save me hours and make it immensely more enjoyable every time I have to go between the Bay area and the LA area. Drive to the little airport 10 miles away, land at the airport 10 miles from my target, make it under 3 hours door to door, instead of half a day.

        If only I was paid enough to make saving hours worth that much...

        • Have you examined the prices of aircraft maintenance?

          • Not in detail on small airplanes, but I know that given the F22/F35's hourly cost, the half hour that the trip would take can buy a few new copies of my car.

            • Not so bad on a light civil aircraft, but it still makes car repairs look pretty cheap. And bear in mind that on a roadable airplane, a parking lot dent goes to an aircraft repair shop, not an auto-body shop -- and you don't have the option of just putting up with the dent.

          • I don't know how much has changed in the last 30 years or so, but back when I was flying you could buy an older plane for less than a new Porsche, and if you flew it enough the cost per mile was actually pretty reasonable, especially if you had a lot of long trips it could be cheaper than the Porsche, and faster.

        • But you can drive to the local airport. Get in your standard plane, Fly to LA. Pick up a rental car at the arrival airport. I do it frequently. The majority of small airports in the US have rental cars available, usually it is very quick to pick them up, minimal paperwork. Many will drive the rental care out to your plane, and refuel the plane while you are away.

    • by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Friday October 18, 2013 @06:15PM (#45170345)

      It's not like he can just take off from the road, he still needs an airport. Doesn't that defeat the entire purpose of a flying car?

      No. If your plane is also your car, you don't need to arrange/pay for a ride/rental from the airport (small municipal airports are often quite a ways from the cities they purportedly serve) to where you're actually going and you also don't need to pay to store your aircraft while you're there.

      It remains a useful thing, just not for the uses you have in mind.

    • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday October 18, 2013 @06:21PM (#45170391) Journal

      Yep - this is clearly a "drivable plane", not a "flying car".

      That still has utility to be sure: it means you can store your plane in your own garage, and it gives you ground transport at your destination. But it still looks like you'd need to drive to the local small airport, fly to the destination small airport, then drive from there.

      A proper "flying car" needs to be VTOL, so you can drive because that's cheaper, but switch to flying when you get caught in traffic.

      • There are already places where people park their planes in their driveways: special neighborhoods connecting to small local airports, with streets designed wide enough that you can taxi you plane down the streets to your house. I used to live near one and saw lots of planes in driveways. If you're rich enough to afford a plane, perhaps you might as well just move to a neighborhood like that instead of waiting for roadable aircraft which will cost more than regular aircraft and probably be less safe than car
        • by AC-x ( 735297 )

          But then, unless you're flying to another plane community, you'd still have the "indignity" of having to leave your plane at whatever local airport and hire a car to get to your destination.

    • by erice ( 13380 )

      It's not like he can just take off from the road, he still needs an airport. Doesn't that defeat the entire purpose of a flying car?

      A drivable airplane still has it's uses. It means that you don't have to pay to park at the airport. It also means you don't have to pay to park your airplane at the destination airport (which is a bigger deal) or rent a car at destination airport. The last becomes more than just an expense if you are flying into a small airport that does not have rental cars.

    • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Friday October 18, 2013 @06:39PM (#45170513) Journal

      At what point does it stop being a compact car and just become a plane that can be stored in smaller places? It's not like he can just take off from the road, he still needs an airport. Doesn't that defeat the entire purpose of a flying car?

      As a private pilot, one of these would just be the bomb! Small planes are at their best for medium range trips - between 100 and 500 miles. The biggest problem is that airports tend to be in outlying areas and there is almost always a 5 to 15 mile drive from the airport to your "real" destination. It's far enough to make Cab driving expensive and inconvenient, it's close enough that renting a car for a day seems like overkill.

      In any event, it's a hassle to schlep your stuff out of the plane parked at the airport into the cab, wait 20 minutes, etc. Being able to land, fold wings, and drive that 5 to 15 miles would be just great!

      Most people don't realize that nearly every city in the USA with more than 20,000 people or so has an airport within 10-20 miles.

    • by kipsate ( 314423 )
      What a great comment. Perhaps it is too ambitious to shoot for "flying cars" as in cars like today that can also fly. Perhaps it is better to aim for "roadable airplanes" like the design in TFA.

      That makes a lot of sense. A roadable airplane only needs short runways and can perhaps be designed to take off and land at a speed of less than 160 km/h (100 mph), making it much more flexible than a conventional airplane. Once in the air, it should behave like a proper plane, that is as easy and as safe to naviga
      • by Anonymous Coward

        No offense. Clearly you don't know much about aviation.

        First off, when talking about light single engine airplanes, a landing speed of 160km/h would be outrageous. A typical 2-4 seat single of the sort most likely to be comparable in performance to a "flying car" very likely has an approach speed of about 60 knots (70 mph), and a touch-down/stall speed of well under 50 knots.

        Second, no airplane is "as easy and safe to drive as a car". Airplanes have many inherent dangers that cars lack. Many mechanical

        • Good summary, as best I understand as a non-pilot but one who's tried to keep up. (I can tell pitch from yaw, and think I remember the rationale for using rudder _and_ ailerons for making a turn; simple stuff.)

          Re tech solutions - if I may, I'd add software defects (to cover an otherwise much longer list of stuff.) If I recall correctly, we've got automated take-off and landing routines that are used by more than a few airline pilots because they can save money and aggravation - but I've read of no pilot w

  • Nope, as shown by girls on bridges and tall buildings.
  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Friday October 18, 2013 @05:46PM (#45170085) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, good luck driving that thing to the supermarket.

    If you want to see a "flying car", it will look more like the "Air Mule" (you'll have to google that folks) being developed by the Israelis.

    It's basically a ducted fan in front of the passenger space, and a ducted fan behind the passenger space. Chances are, it doesn't have much range.

    • by ZombieBraintrust ( 1685608 ) on Friday October 18, 2013 @05:52PM (#45170153)
      My rule of thumb is that a "flying car" is a vehicle that functionally replaces the automobile in the same way the "horseless carriage" replaced the horse and buggy. The idea of a "flying car" is that it would be a family vehilce owned by the middle class. That it would be a day to day vehicle. That it was better than a car because it would travel line of sight instead of on roads. An expensive plane, that can't carry heavy loads, and needs a runway doesn't fit any of these promises.
      • It's a nice dream, but likely very unfeasible. The reason is that any malfunction or accident means both likely death for the occupants, and likely serious damage for people on the ground. I don't think it's likely the skies can handle hundreds of such vehicles at any given time.

        • Once the self driving cars become common, the skies and roads should be able to handle it well. We are still a ways away before that happens but it wouldn't be technically too much different in approaches from a technical and safety standpoint.

          Right now, from a safety standpoint, we give aircraft a large space between each other. A computer driving them and calculating the risks can close this gap quite a bit but more appropriately, a computer can do systems checks that could prevent most if not all mid air

        • Much of the early history of the car was seen in the same light. As the automobile became more popular inexperienced drivers, unwary pedestrians, faulty designs & poor safety systems caused many injuries ,fatalities & property damage. And just because a "flying car" has a mechanical issue doesn't mean the occupants are doomed, even today many small aircraft have a "Ballistic Parachute" which deploys a parachute large enough and quick enough to safely land an entire light aircraft.

  • I see no point. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    1) Its not good car
    2) Its not good plane either
    3) You have to go to airport to take off
    4) Most probably if you can afford flying car, you can afford car and plane together each by itself.

    Flying car is cool only if you can take off whenever you want off, wherever you want.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      intersection of art and technology(that's how the inventor describes this, not as a viable everyday product..)

      you want a car helicopter. I guess that would be simpler to make too..

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As usual, this is not a car that can fly, this is a plane that can drive. But I guess that's just because physics is a bitch.

  • by Frequency Domain ( 601421 ) on Friday October 18, 2013 @06:13PM (#45170323)
    Pretty unstable, that is. The thing has almost no ground clearance, and seemed to really be wobbly on takeoff. I'd be pretty nervous for takeoffs and landings.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    A single shopping cart ding could render your vehicle un-airworthy.

    Form and function. You can't always make a biquine when the problem spaces are so drastically different.

  • Now you know why iMaps sends you to the runway of Fairbanks airport.
    You're just not cool enough to have an iCar yet.

  • but still pretty cool.

    In the video, the aircraft seemed to fly level at an altitude no higher than its wingspan. This would have been in the ground effect flight regime, in which fixed wing aircraft have a bit more lift and less drag than at higher altitudes. Takes less power to fly in ground effect. []

  • It does look like one of the better flying car designs. Its not simply a car with some wings that can be strapped to it and it looks to be pretty decent on the roads. I suppose the only questions left would be cost, if its going to cost $400K plus for one you're not going to see much interest beyond millionaires. But if it is in the $50 - $100K range and proves to be a stable aircraft that can be flown regularly it could very well see widespread usage.

  • Not knock the technical prowess of the lads making this. But it has to be said that with such a design you'd inevitably wind up with a crap car and a shitty airplane. Just buy a car and a plain. Just call a cab if/when you land with a conventional plain and when you are in need of transportation.
    • a conventional "plain" would be one with grasses growing on it. 8D

      call a taxi? from an small town airport? I'm wondering if most cities (since most are tiny ones) in the USA even have taxi available.

  • The Terrafugia Transition may not be as "attractive" but it's far closer to being an actual product that people can drive / fly. There are big tradeoffs when you add road capability to a light plane - it adds a lot of weight. The Aeromobil also appears to be shooting for something that can legally be considered a light sport aircraft in the US, so if it weights "only" about a thousand pounds, that gives you almost no capacity for passengers and fuel. 400 mile range is not a lot.
  • This week I got to meet Stefan Klein in Bratislava ... where he was the winner of my "Gamechangers of the CEE 2013" event. Aeromobil is no gimmick, and the prototype can really fly ... in fact he was just back from North America where he hopes to partner with Boeing and NASA in making the full concept practical and commercial. For me he's a great "Gamechanger" ... not just with his innovation, but the way he combines art and technology, vision and design, passion and discipline. You can read my interview

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