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Aeromobil flying car prototype gets off the ground for the first time

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October 17, 2013

The Aeromobil flying car designed by Stefan Klein takes to the skies for the first time

The Aeromobil flying car designed by Stefan Klein takes to the skies for the first time

Image Gallery (11 images)

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?

The Aeromobil V2.5 is a propeller-driven aircraft that also functions as an automobile – or you can think of it it a car with lofty aspirations. The aviation aspects seem to be prominent in the design, with a streamlined cockpit, super light weight, and sleek tail fins in the back. Propulsion is provided by a 100 hp Rotax 912 water cooled engine mounted behind the seats, with drive shafts leading both aft to the propeller and forward to the two front wheels for driving.

This project is not the only flying car around. There is also the US-based Terrafugia, which folds up its wings vertically on the sides of the vehicle. There is also a Dutch design called the PAL-V, where the ground vehicle is a three wheeled tilting motorcycle that turns into a gyrocopter at the airport.

The wings fold back to make the flying car fit on the roadways.  It also runs on automotiv...

When the Automobil is a car, the wings are folded straight back along the fuselage and the engine drives the front wheels, while the small back wheels support the tail. There seems to be very little structure, and the entire vehicle weighs just 980 lb (450 kg) empty of fuel and passengers. There is room for two people in the very snug cockpit, and there are two steering wheels, mounted one inside the other in front of the driver/pilot. The larger wheel is for driving on the ground, and the smaller wheel is used for flying.

As shown in the video below, when the Aeromobil gets to the airport, the driver/pilot pushes a button and the wings fold out for a wingspan of 8.2 m (27 ft), which is comparable to other light sport aircraft of similar weight and power. The large flaps (moveable surfaces on the trailing edge of the wing) in this prototype flip over the wing and hang down to add lift for takeoff with the entire wing also tilting up a few degrees to assume the proper angle to the wind for takeoff.

The driver switches the gearbox to send power back to the propeller that is mounted at the very end of the vehicle between the two vertical tails. The Aeromobil then takes to the runway and accelerates for takeoff. In the video the airplane stays near the runway, as you would expect with a first flight. The airplane mode of the Aeromobil would have a top speed of 200 kph (124 mph) and a range of over 700 km (430 miles).

Klein says that in car mode the Aeromobil fits into a standard parking space and can be refueled at the same gas station as all the other cars – in other words, it does not require special aviation fuel like most aircraft. The flying car is extremely lightweight, coming in at less than half the weight of a compact car like the Ford Fiesta, which weighs 1,041 kg (2295 lbs). The structure is a steel tube frame with a carbon fiber composite shell, a configuration familiar to fans of racing cars.

Side view of the Aeromobil in airplane mode, ready for takeoff (Photo: Aeromobil)

The Aeromobil is a prototype intended to demonstrate to investors that the concept is viable. Klein is now shopping this striking flying vehicle to potential manufacturers and investors in order to make it a reality. Once such a deal is struck, he estimates that it would take two additional years to get certification for the Aeromobil to go into production, presumably under the existing Light Sport Aircraft rules.

Over the twenty year gestation of this flying car concept, Klien has created four different versions of his dream. The first version did not have folding wings at all, but was a boxy canard (tail first) design with tall wheels. The next versions featured the signature folding wings, but different tail configurations. Version 2.0 had an inverted V-shaped tail and this last version 2.5 was the first with two vertical tail fins enclosing the wheels. His web site shows drawings for Version 3.0.

Klein has a very interesting background, with degrees both in mechanical engineering, and in fine arts. He originally wanted to be a sculptor, but received his engineering degree first. He later studied design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava, the Slovak Republic and became the head of the Department of Transport Design at that school. As a professional, he worked on car designs for Audi, BMW, and Volkswagen, and won a national design award for a three-wheeled electric scooter, which he still drives to work each day.

Flying is in the Klein family, however, and his grandfather, father and brother are all pilots. He started flying as a teenager with his brother, and today flies both powered aircraft and gliders. For the Aeromobil, he is also the chief test pilot, which in unusual in these days of large aerospace companies.

Klein calls his Aeromobil flying car “the intersection of technology and art.” You can judge this for yourself by checking out the following video in which Klein demonstrates the road driving characteristics and then shows the first flight of the Aeromobil flying car.

Source: AVWEB, AEROMOBIL, AUTOSME.sk

About the Author
Francis X Govers III Francis Govers is the designer of over 20 land, sea, air and space vehicles and teaches robotics and the design of self-driving cars. He spent 10 years at NASA, helped design the International Space Station, participated in the DARPA Grand Challenge, and managed the only Zeppelin operating in the US. As a commercial pilot, writer, artist, musician, engineer, race car nut and designer, Francis has a serious addiction to building things that frequently gets him into trouble.   All articles by Francis X Govers III
31 Comments

The trouble with these 2-in-1 devices is, because of compromises, they often aren't good at either function.

So this is a lousy overpriced car and a terrible airplane. The fact that it's two machines in one doesn't help the situation...

They used to have console stereo systems that had a TV tube & tuner, a record player, a radio, and a hi-fi all in one. If any part of it quit working, all of it had to go to the shop!!!

Or like a tablet that's also a phone and a camera. It's too small to be a good tablet and simultaneously too big to be a good phone, and the camera sensor doesn't give good photography.

I could go on and on...

Grunchy
18th October, 2013 @ 12:05 am PDT

I think this design looks very nice. I expect insurance would be pretty high.

I wonder if an owner would be tempted to take off from a motorway. So much easier than finding an airport!

I couldn't see how the folded wings got past the tailfins when they went into the flying position.

Which is more economic all, road travel or air travel? Bear in mind, you have to travel to an airstrip.

David Colton Clarke
18th October, 2013 @ 02:57 am PDT

I agree; however, you have to keep in mind your priorities.

This is a prototype, and not only that, it's an experiment. Flying cars will need to progress a lot before they become commercially viable, but this could be said about all designs and inventions. The light bulb was terribly inefficient the first time Edison made it, but as the years go by, and more people take the plunge and try something, no matter how it turns out the first time, we eventually build up the experience to turn the concept into a fully-fledged and useful product. If we didn't start somewhere, we wouldn't go nowhere.

You're judging the car by production standards. And anyway, it looks cool!

DesignerJSL
18th October, 2013 @ 03:08 am PDT

Did you look at the razor sharp tail? I don't understand that can be road legal.

Vincent Bevort
18th October, 2013 @ 03:36 am PDT

Carbon fiber has bankrupted every aircraft manufacturer who has dared touching it. Burt Rutan is the exception that confirms the rule. Boeing with its model 787, largely built from carbon fiber and with +1000 orders is not even sure to make a profit. So Aeromobil should stick to the old test and true method of aluminum sheet and rivets.

As pointed out by Grunchi, it’s not going to be a good plane nor a good car, there are too many compromise, so I don’t think that there is a commercial future for this project, except perhaps for some emirs or son of emirs in the Gulf states with too much money burning a hole in theirs pocket.

brickandfanal
18th October, 2013 @ 05:14 am PDT

I think that is a really nice design. I can see the creators aritistic talent in its design. I hope he gets the funding to make it. Of the flying cars out there, this is - IMO - the nicest looking one.

My Dad had an idea for something like this. His ideas was to have the gas engine connected to a generator and have the wheels and propeller connected to electric motors. To swich from one to the other only required a switch and not complicated gears and/or drive shafts.

BigGoofyGuy
18th October, 2013 @ 05:34 am PDT

Grunchy, I don't think the problem is whether or not it is excellent at both functions, but its more of a question of what transportation need is this trying to fill? Is the solution intended to satisfy the daily commuter? The weekend city-hopper? The business executive who oversees multiple geographically distributed facilities? Or the globe-trotting adventurer? Until there is a viable market, the product will be a hard sell.

And, I'm not saying there's not one for this... I get the impression that the greatest cry for these sorts of solutions come from the multitudes of average, middle-class, working blokes who have a seething hatred for traffic jams and stop lights. (If for some reason this is unfamiliar to you, simply rent the movie "Office Space" for a humorous demo.)

But as for striking the proper balance of capability for road vs. air, I would definitely lean heavily in the direction of air-worthiness. This, unfortunately, leaves road-worthiness relegated to the realm of neighborhood-only capability (ie. keep it off the freeways, eh?) But, I feel this is okay, assuming the air part included VTOL or STOL features, and the aforementioned neighborhoods contain designated take-off & landing zones.

Then, we get back to the notion of mass-market... not sure I like the idea of traffic jams in the airways.

MzunguMkubwa
18th October, 2013 @ 05:36 am PDT

I would see those as a rental craft. Because their main use is NOT to have one vehicle and save money from owning 2, but the cross-country traveler who wants to connect some airfields by air and some by ground.

Kaido Tiigisoon
18th October, 2013 @ 05:53 am PDT

It is so fantastic to see those who dare to try the near impossible that will become main stream. Perhaps the answer to the flying car is to take a small great plane and find a way to make it street legal. I know I'd be much more concerned about the flying ability than driving!

[Perhaps you might be interested in the PD-2 conversion kit, at http://www.gizmag.com/plane-driven-pd-2-raodable-aircraft/23552/ - Ed.]

Rehab
18th October, 2013 @ 07:19 am PDT

What ever happened to the PAL-V? That thing looked probably the most promising out of any other flying car, next to the Maverick.

Richard J. Auchus
18th October, 2013 @ 07:59 am PDT

I am pretty sure for the same price I could get a small car and a plane that will carry it.

Slowburn
18th October, 2013 @ 08:59 am PDT

yes

the dream never dies

the $100,000 car that gets 3 mpg and can only go to the airport

nice!

wle

Larry English
18th October, 2013 @ 09:32 am PDT

Both of these guys are good.

Yes it is beautiful and one wonders if moon disks wouldn't add.

When you look at the Osprey, you have to notice the propellers. What are they, 6 or 8 bladed and they must exist because they pull more power to get that monster off the deck.

Makes you kind of wonder if something like that wouldn't help a bit here.

b

Lewis M. Dickens III
18th October, 2013 @ 09:48 am PDT

What a splendid piece of engineering excellence. I can't believe this is the work of one man. His devotion to his dream leaves me in wonderment. Well done, sir.

jeronimo
18th October, 2013 @ 10:16 am PDT

Congratulations. It has a ways to go yet, but good work! Don't have any fender benders.

ezeflyer
18th October, 2013 @ 11:12 am PDT

It's a nice looking design. But it only serves to convince me that a small helicopter makes more sense than a half-this, half-that auto/plane.

teeduke
18th October, 2013 @ 11:19 am PDT

I know more than a little about these and this one look really good!! It when folded is reasonable.

It does seem unstable in it's first flight, but it was it's first flight as likely can fix that. Of course it could be the pilot overcorrecting common flying any plane the first time.

Thinner, lighter rear wheels should be used too.

jerryd
18th October, 2013 @ 01:16 pm PDT

I recognize the design may be unconventional...however I believe Stefan has done a terrific job pushing this concept forward. It is a marvelous achievement with some significant promise. By the time this Air/Car makes production, perhaps 2-3 years there will be additional refinemnts (like all products) and likely some additional enabling technologies that will surely make perhaps some who find marginal or some what undesireable performance in one venue or another very appealing.

I congratulate you Stefan on success thus far, this is creativity and innovation the world needs more of. If there is a design modification, materials, propulsion or tweaks needed, I am sure a plethora of young PhD students in aeronautical departments at Universities around the world would be happy to freely contribute with the vast assets and talent at their disposal. Great Job and thanks for Your contribution!

SpeedBird2014
18th October, 2013 @ 02:01 pm PDT

It is a lot cheaper to use a fold up bicycle or just call a cab when you get there. The 2 will never mix with any practicality.

donwine
18th October, 2013 @ 02:04 pm PDT

20 years for another four wheeled plane, really? That's sad. Try adding a VTOL and make you product worth buying. With the Vertical take off and landing system, a hybrid aero car won't need travel miles out of the way into an airport and use a runway. Instead just take off from your drive way.

Gargamoth
18th October, 2013 @ 02:23 pm PDT

To all you critics out there ... think about how much creative excellence has gone into this aerial sculpture. It's no different to any other creative sculpture that man has created .... only this one can fly. Stefan has applied all his knowledge about materials, mechanics, structures and aerodynamics to create something very special here.

By the way, I don't know Stefan at all ... I live on the other side of the planet to him. But I do know how hard it is to pull all the different elements together to make this thing work .... and to look sculpturally significant and pleasing to the eye.

jeronimo
18th October, 2013 @ 03:33 pm PDT

I might be one of the few here that actually commuted to the same job by auto and aircraft. Lived in Long Beach,CA and worked in La Vern which was 63 miles each way. I was lucky in that most of the trip was opposite traffic but it still sucked.

I also owned a Piper Cherokee PA-150C Cherokee. My job was less than 2 miles from Bracket Field across the street from L.A. County Fair Grounds. We had 4 pilots in our small company and usually one would pick me up at the airport. Realistically I only beat driving by about 10 minutes if there was no traffic by the time I drove to Compton Airport, pre flighted and flew to Bracket. But I got to work refreshed with a BIG smile on my face. Likewise I really looked forward to the trip home.

My only issue is I was still working on my instrument rating and many times in the late afternoon the marine layer would come in and Compton would go below VFR minimums. I could only fly on the days that I was certain that I would have clear skies to fly home or I had to overnight in La Vern or get my wife to come get me. A second car would have cured this but we already had two cars and an airplane.

A broken back followed by a divorce after 27 years together ended all this fun. This little Car/Plane would have been perfect for me. I knew many pilots that could have benefited in the same way. I like this little vehicle. More than that I like what it represents. A vision by someone that does not listen to all the stuffy naysayers.!!

I hope he builds thousands of the final model and if I could I would be there for serial # 0001.

vblancer
18th October, 2013 @ 05:43 pm PDT

This is the first flying car/roadable airplane to come along in a long time that I have any respect for, technically. Like ALL engineering projects, it is a compromise, but because of its super-lightweight construction they've given up less for roadability than ever before. The problem it faces has nothing to do with technology, however: ironically, flying cars have more trouble meeting regulations for use on the road than getting certified to fly! Typically, in America they have to be given three wheels or two, to qualify as "motorcycles" under State and Federal road safety laws - if they have four or more wheels they are saddled with hydraulic bumpers, "antipollution" gear, airbags and all the other useless and expensive crap that adds hundreds of pounds and thousands of dollars to cost and would completely cancel all the weight-saving effort put into this machine. This beast appears to have four wheels; I don't know how they plan to handle this problem, which they must surely be aware of.

piolenc
18th October, 2013 @ 06:58 pm PDT

@ Lewis M. Dickens III

The Osprey has 2 three bladed rotors.

Slowburn
19th October, 2013 @ 01:19 am PDT

Certainly a striking design, I like it. And it certainly isn't for everyone. So, damn the naysayers, full speed ahead. Nothing great is ever accomplished by the timid or the critical.

Bruce H. Anderson
19th October, 2013 @ 09:56 am PDT

COME ON PEOPLE! HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I SEEN THIS OR READ THIS? These thing are great (Concept or Not)! BUT YOU CANNOT CALL IT A "FLYING CAR" IF YOU HAVE TO STILL TAKE OFF FROM A RUNWAY!!! It's an Airplane that's made street-legal. A Real Flying Car should have the ability to take off from the road, in the middle of a traffic jam (or such) and be no where near an airport!!

Kendell Lauing
20th October, 2013 @ 01:02 pm PDT

No no no no

When I was a kid my dad said by the time I'm old enough to drive there would be flying cars

To my dad this is probably what he saw in his head

In my head it was a car out of starwars

You get me

Ramape
20th October, 2013 @ 05:44 pm PDT

So here's the thing for me.

In Wellington there aren't any car parks big enough to fit my ute in let a lone a plane.

And if that is stable take off in no wind I would love to watch you land one in Wellington on just about any day.

So you can't park it like a car and it won't fly in the wind, now whats it good for again.

I LOVE innovation but what problem is it solving again?

Nick Rowney
20th October, 2013 @ 06:10 pm PDT

A lot of drag and poor forward visibility. Heavy.

Mitko Ian
20th October, 2013 @ 07:35 pm PDT

The Terrafugio has better stability from the first flight tests. However this is a much sexier beast. But weight was an issue with the first and it had to meet automotive standards.

Luddite
21st October, 2013 @ 08:44 pm PDT

I used to have a job as a wholesale banker, and my area was HUGE! Basically all of California north of Yuba City. I bought a few inexpensive motorcycles and left them in Fortuna, Klamath Falls, Yuba City, and Tahoe. I flew out of Redding and saved many, many hours. The airplane I flew got nearly 20 miles per gallon, but it saved fuel by going point to point over my Honda Accord. What it bought for me was time with my family! A trip to Fortuna was under an hour and a half, including preflight. I saved three hours that day both directions. Tahoe had equal savings, forty five minutes was the cutoff. I used motorcycles instead of cars because I never wanted to be tempted to fly into bad weather! Lol. Waaaay cheaper than this guys solution.

PickleMan Pickles
22nd October, 2013 @ 02:42 pm PDT
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