One piece of technology in particular that has become synonymous with futuristic technology is the flying car. While it may seem like something from science fiction, a Slovakian tech company has recently produced and test flown their own model of a flying car.
Slovakian engineering and technology firm Klein Vision has been developing prototypes for a personal flying car for several years. The founder of the company is Stefan Klein, a designer and test pilot who began building test models of flying vehicles in the 1980s. His early flying car models were tested but deemed impractical and currently are shown in aerospace museums in the country. After several redesigns and attempts, he built a team of engineers, pilots, and vehicle technicians at Klein Vision to produce a usable flying car. The team began designing the AirCar model in 2016. The AirCar V5 began development in 2019 in preparation for the first test flight. The AirCar V5 is made of an aerodynamic fuselage resembling a 2-person automobile and several retractable components. When preparing for flight, wings and a tail fold out to help produce lift like a normal aircraft. When driving, the tail becomes more compact and the wings fold away to be able to drive on the highway. The vehicle also has a fixed propeller located on the back of the fuselage and an emergency parachute system. It can fit two pilots and about 400 lbs of cargo.
The takeoff process requires only about 1000 feet of runway, which is much less than a standard aircraft. In the air, it has an approximate range of almost 600 miles. The process of transforming from car to plane takes about 2 minutes. The process to switch back to driving mode takes about 3 minutes. The vehicle is made of composite material and has a single 160 horsepower engine system. The material was produced by a Slovakian company called SKMODEL and meets the highest standards for air travel. Future versions of the car will be designed to contain twin engines and fit three to four passengers. There are also plans for an amphibious version of the vehicle that will combine features of boats, aircraft, and cars.
The Maiden Voyage
Since the car was debuted at an exhibition in China in 2019, it has gone through several modeled flights and simulations. The AirCar V5 made its initial test flight on June 28, 2021. The vehicle was flown by the Klein Vision team between the Slovakian cities of Nitra and Bratislava for a total of over 30 minutes in the air. The transition from ground to takeoff to landing was seamless. Several other aircraft and a ground crew were used to record and track the historic flight. The vehicle has up to this date recorded about 40 hours of time in the air but had never completed an intercity flight until this point. In order to complete more routine and longer flights, the vehicle must pass the EU Aviation Safety Agency's certification. This will take about 6 months to complete. Due to its aerodynamic design and stable flying characteristics, the AirCar V5 is made for pilots of any skill level. This will help make the vehicle more marketable to a wide range of consumers in the near future. Klein Vision hopes this vehicle will one day help alleviate ground traffic in major cities. It will also help prevent accidents by decongesting major highways. The AirCar V5 will hopefully work alongside other autonomous vehicles to provide a new era of leisure and safety to the automobile industry. Once again, the modern age of technology provides something that seems like science fiction but will soon be attainable to the general consumer.