Developed by Klein Vision and first introduced in 2019, the AirCar has been making incredible (and incredibly fast) progress. The AirCar Prototype 1 made its maiden flight in late 2020 and, since then, has recorded 142 successful landings and over 40 hours of flight testing. The 142nd landing coincided with the AirCar’s first-ever inter-city flight, a 35-minute journey from the international airport in Nitra to the international airport in Bratislava, Slovakia on June 28, 2021.
Professor Stefan Klein, the inventor of AirCar and the founder of Klein Vision, operated the vehicle in both modes. Once he landed in Bratislava, he converted the AirCar into a car – a process that took under three minutes and saw it retract its wings and tail – and then drove it into the city. You can see a video of this historic first flight at the bottom of the page.
According to Klein Vision, dual mode transportation will cut down flight times by half, for a very simple reason: you no longer have to find transportation on the road to get you to and from the airport and, once there, you can take off as soon as AirCar is in flight mode. Klein Vision imagines a future in which the AirCar will privatize air travel, because every individual owning one will be allowed to drive it to the nearest airport to take it to the skies. Realistically speaking, the road to this is long and winding, and will involve certifications, approvals and, most likely, a pilot license.
Back to the topic of the first-ever inter-city flight, it was done with the Prototype 1 model, which is powered by a 160 hp BMW engine with fixed propeller, and can fly at a maximum cruising speed of 190 kph (118 mph). A press release from Klein Vision notes that the prototype has reached altitudes of 8,200 feet and has been able to perform, under supervision from the Civil Aviation Authority, steep 45-degree turns, and undergo a range of stability and maneuverability tests.
AirCar Prototype 2 will be the pre-production model, and will feature a 300 hp engine with variable pitch propeller. It will cruise at a much faster 300 kph (186.5 mph) and have a range of 1,000 km (621 miles) in the air. Klein Vision is hoping for an EASA CS-23 aircraft certification, with an M1 road permit for use as a car. The company is also looking into diversifying the range of options, with 2 and 4-seat versions, as well as an amphibian model. Naturally, the only thing better than a car that can fly is a car that flies and floats.
As noted above, Klein Vision has made progress by leaps and bounds: it only took them 18 months to go from concept to prototype, and then moved swiftly to live testing. As amazing as that is, it’s still only the beginning of the road toward dual transportation, since one of the biggest hurdles will probably prove air certification. The goal behind the AirCar is very promising, that of delivering the same freedom as the automobile in its early age, but achieving it won’t be easy – if only for the fact that it will put civilians at the controls of legitimate aircraft.