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PAL-V flying car makes successful first test flight

By

April 2, 2012

The PAL-V takes to the air on a successful test flight (Photo: PAL-V)

The PAL-V takes to the air on a successful test flight (Photo: PAL-V)

Image Gallery (44 images)

With the PAL-V last appearing on our pages way back in 2004, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is just another flying car concept that never made it off the ground. But Dutch company PAL-V Europe NV has been busy in the past seven years having finalized the design concept in 2008 and testing a driving prototype in 2009. Now the flying-driving prototype has been put through its paces with video of the PAL-V’s recent successful maiden flight now released.

Although the finished vehicle looks slightly different to the computer renderings available in 2004, the design remains pretty much the same. On the ground the two-seater PAL-V is an aerodynamic tilting three-wheeler that is designed to combine the handling of a motorbike with a mechanical-hydraulic dynamic tilting mechanism automatically adjusting the tilt angle of the vehicle while cornering.

It is powered by a 160 kW flight certified gasoline engine – although there will also be biodiesel and bio-ethanol versions - that can accelerate the vehicle from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in under eight seconds, on the way to a top speed of 180 km/h (112 mph). In ground mode the vehicle boasts estimated fuel economy figures of 12 km/l (28 mpg US) and a range of 1,200 km (750 miles).

PAL-V - first deliveries expected in 2014 (Photo: PAL-V)

To convert from automobile to airplane, the vehicle’s engine must be brought to a stop – no Transformer-like transition on the go unfortunately. The tail is then extended and the rotor unfolded in a process that takes less than 10 minutes. Upon starting the engine the foldable push propeller emerges from the rear of the cabin to provide the forward thrust. To go from aircraft to automobile, the process is simply reversed.

The PAL-V requires a strip (either pavement or grass) of at least 165 m (540 ft) to get airborne and just 30 m (100 ft) to land. Once in the air it can reach a maximum speed of 97 kts (180 km/h/112 mph), with a minimum speed of 27 kts (50 km/h/31 mph) required for level flight. In flight mode it has an estimated fuel economy of 36 l/h (9.5 US gph) and a range of 350-500 km (220-315 miles), depending on the model type, payload and wind conditions.

Designed to generally operate below 1,200 m (4,000 ft), the PAL-V flies within the airspace reserved for uncontrolled Visual Flight Rules (VFR) traffic, meaning it can take off in many countries without filing a flight plan. The company points out that governments in the U.S. and Europe are examining the development of “digital freeways” that use GPS technology to provide a safe corridor for such vehicles.

PAL-V first flight (Photo: PAL-V)

Flying like a standard gyrocopter, the PAL-V’s main rotor has a slower rotation than a helicopter, making it quieter and giving it the ability to take off and land at lower speeds. The company says it is also easier to control and cannot stall and, even if the engine fails, it can be steered and landed safely as the rotor keeps auto rotating.

Measuring 4(L) x 1.6(W) x 1.6(H) m (13.1 x 5.2 x 5.2 ft), the PAL-V weighs 680 kg (1,499 lb) and can carry a maximum load of 230 kg (507 lb) for a maximum gross weight of 910 kg (2,006 lb). The company says the PAL-V complies with existing regulations in all major markets making it legal for both road and air use. Obtaining a license requires only 20 to 30 hours of training.

Having conducted successful test flights, the PAL-V team will now focus on the design of the first commercial model PAL-V, with first deliveries expected in 2014. PAL-V Europe says law enforcement agencies, the military, and flying doctors have already expressed interest in the vehicle.

Here’s video of the PAL-V’s maiden flight.

Source: PAL-V

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
34 Comments

Where are they storing the main rotor blades?

n3r0
2nd April, 2012 @ 07:06 pm PDT

re; n3r0

They are stowed in the bag on top, after being folded. the both swing back at the rotor head, and also fold mid blade.

..............................................................................................................................

I would prefer to use the propeller for ground travel as well. It works well for airboats. it would save weight as well.

Slowburn
2nd April, 2012 @ 09:18 pm PDT

They fold together and store backwards, secured onto the superstructure that supports the tailplane aray. If my eyes do not deceive me.

Anyway,it's a neat combination of a Gyrocopter and a Carver 3 wheeler-also from Holland.

gragraposker
2nd April, 2012 @ 09:49 pm PDT

Wow! new genration car!

Thangals Sayed Zainul Abid
2nd April, 2012 @ 09:55 pm PDT

@n3r0

They fold up. Check the pics.

-------

This is an exciting vehicle: it can take off in a very short range, can be stored in larger garages (meaning well off people out in the country might have a new mode of transport). The fact that military and law enforcement are taking interest also is a plus for civilians, since police use would likely involve an interest in taking off and landing in urban areas. And since they're the police, they'll get a bit more policy in favor of allowing that type of thing.

Alex Lekander
2nd April, 2012 @ 09:57 pm PDT

Big, fat, Congratulations, to that Dutch team!

I want one!

Edgar Castelo
3rd April, 2012 @ 03:32 am PDT

Can that car float too?

Muhammad Usman
3rd April, 2012 @ 03:38 am PDT

People have enough problem driving in 2 dimensions. God help us when the start trying to get to think in 3 dimensions

ihateorange
3rd April, 2012 @ 03:43 am PDT

I remember when the 2004 posting of it. I think it is way cool. I would still want those who own one to have some sort of flight training (it just makes sense).

Perhaps a future version could have it fold (or unfold for flight) for road travel automatically.

Perhaps a couple of 'attachable' airplane pontoon floats could make if float too? (just thinking out loud).

BigWarpGuy
3rd April, 2012 @ 05:23 am PDT

How much more is the top main rotor providing lift compared to weight on the machine.

Future models will have more light weight composite materials.

Since propulsion on ground is via engine and wheels and in the air via engine and rotors, the wheels will have to be light

During take off, is the engine turning both the wheels and the back rotor?

Ideally I would like that the wheel hubs become the back thrust rotors during flight, with the wheels turning backwards.

The craft should have a glide capacity and given that a top rotor is provided, have full vtol capacity.

Dawar Saify
3rd April, 2012 @ 05:33 am PDT

Amazing technology, fellow Dutchies.

How much does it cost?

Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret
3rd April, 2012 @ 06:27 am PDT

Nice!!!! but i think Kiss can apply to this bird.

Leonard Foster Jr
3rd April, 2012 @ 07:41 am PDT

@BigWarpGuy - well, the top rotor is giving all the lift, but it's unpowered - it's a gyrocopter, which has been around far longer than a helicopter. They can't hover - the blades need forward propulsion to keep them spinning, but if the drive propeller stops, for some reason, the copter "glides" down and can land in a very controlled fashion.

They're far safer than a helicopter - just nowhere near as fast or as flexible.

Cool all the same - would LOVE one!

socalboomer
3rd April, 2012 @ 09:15 am PDT

What is the air speed? I believe the speeds quoted are ground speeds.

Boret
3rd April, 2012 @ 09:20 am PDT

Fantastic. I'll park mine right next to my Terrafugia Transition!

http://www.terrafugia.com/video_D2.html

Imagine opening the door to your double garage and have two flying cars in there, side by side. One can dream.

PeetEngineer
3rd April, 2012 @ 09:58 am PDT

Dutch!? Wasn't Jarno Smeets Dutch also? How do we know these pictures are not fake also?

Artisteroi Rlsh Gadgeteer
3rd April, 2012 @ 10:04 am PDT

This is not a flying car, not even close.

Brian Brehart
3rd April, 2012 @ 10:15 am PDT

This is more like it dutchy, not too sure about the runway taking off the future says vertical takes of will be superior not tracks,as these require space time and money. Perhaps we will even eventually have to re think cities due to the taking off of vertical cars. The technology can only progress.

To a point of smaller and smaller propellers until finally jets emerge in the vertical lifting off phase. The plane has always been nothing more than a box with wings and a motor with features which riddled the mind of the unmathematic

All we actual had to do was make the wings road worthy and add some screens.Screens will hopefully eliminate this need to no lots of essential useless information pilots have to learn.

Richardf
3rd April, 2012 @ 11:28 am PDT

Beautiful vehicle congrats!

Not as good as my design but they have already built theirs and mine is still a design. This should do well selling as a city commuter and sports car with flying option. As oppossed to the Terrafugia alot more people are going to want one of these because it's fast on the ground looks cool and has a shorter takes off distance.

Matt Fletcher
3rd April, 2012 @ 11:35 am PDT

The back prop is awesome. I'm not sure I'd like to drive this on the road though. As long as I don't have one, it will always suck. :P

Nitrozzy7
3rd April, 2012 @ 03:07 pm PDT

Dawar,

'Ideally I would like that the wheel hubs become the back thrust rotors during flight, with the wheels turning backwards.'

Are you serious ?

Spacewalker
3rd April, 2012 @ 04:35 pm PDT

re; Brian Brehart

Granted it is more of a flying three wheel motorcycle, but it falls neatly into the category of flying car.

Slowburn
3rd April, 2012 @ 04:59 pm PDT

@Slowburn, your last post, we agree for once, I want one. You?

Bill Bennett
3rd April, 2012 @ 10:03 pm PDT

"Q" would be so proud of "Little Nelly" having grown up..

Gerard Gallagher
3rd April, 2012 @ 11:02 pm PDT

re; Bill Bennett

I do, but there are some changes I would like. A three bladed rotor with a different mid blade joint and as I said before use a caged propeller for propulsion an the ground.

Slowburn
4th April, 2012 @ 04:42 am PDT

I thought Woody Norris was right with his counterrotating helicopter blades, and I think also that using the same propulsion for ground propulsion is better than having any separate system. Also there is no reason on Earth why this vehicle should weigh this much. Options to reduce weight: Carbon fiber composites or similar materials such as graphene sheeting etc.; use Michelin Tweels or Twheels (combined wheel and tire, very lightweight). Use Dr. Angelo Di Pietro's rotary Wankel air motor and Quantum Technologies carbon fiber composite air pressure tank (up to 10,000 psi). This immediately reduces engine size and weight, and eliminates standard fuel weight also. Learning to fly is greatly reduced, to about 1 hour or so, if the Woody Norris counterrotating blade system is used, and no tail rotor is needed. I like the gyrocopter soft landing aspect.

Jay Dillon
14th April, 2012 @ 07:29 pm PDT

erruh......how the heck are those rear wheels driven?

C. Walker Jr.
16th April, 2012 @ 03:16 pm PDT

For those wanting to use the propeller for thrust on the ground, there are at least two problems.

- The blast of air is not that friendly to anyone around it. Imagine sitting at a sidewalk cafe, when one of these tried to leave from the stop light next to you.

- Propellers pick up rocks off the ground when you drive over them! I landed at a rural fly in restaurant that had gravel where the planes parked. You literally drove down the last street in town, stopping at stop signs, etc. But the company I rented to plane from was not happy about the chipped up prop they were forced to repair.

sunfly
21st April, 2012 @ 04:39 pm PDT

In the future I can imagine people having something like this in place of the second car. The normal car would be used for errands involving other people/large loads (dropping the kids off at school, grocery shopping) and the small single-seater for commuting where you don't need to haul hundreds of extra pounds of car to work and back everyday. Plus this has the added bonus of being able to fly!

Forward Thinker
22nd April, 2012 @ 09:45 pm PDT

It is a flying tricycle...not a car.

Stephen Sturrock Peters
23rd April, 2012 @ 05:32 am PDT

OMG! a flying car?? That is so cool. I wonder what production models will cost? And can they build one with capacity to carry 4 people? I think that would be a major selling point. right now, it is little more than an enclosed motorcycle with wings.

Paul Farah
20th May, 2012 @ 07:38 am PDT

i like this new tec the world is going beyond imagination

Rwakisambya Adrian
14th June, 2013 @ 10:21 am PDT

Congratulations to the PAL-V Dutch team...this is a splendid concept vehicle and in my opinion shows a lot of promise for market acceptance. Like any design, and suggestions above, there are always tweaks, and perhaps some new enabling technologies that will reduce price, enhance performance, and make it more appealing to the masses globally.

I would not hesitate to fly one and understand the concept/ prototype is very good as it is. With some enhancements, V2/ V3/ V4+ etc. and perhaps some maintenance simplicity and design revisions here and there, and modest tweaks...I would love to own one. I have envisioned something similar myself, yet go about it a bit different however you are miles ahead! There is a vehicle for everyone, not everyone loves the Buggati, Station Wagon, Corvette, or Mini-Van...you get the idea. This craft with a bit more refinements "Will Sell" in my opinion. Terriffic Job...keep pushing relentlessly forward...I will be looking for your team and production vehicle in the winners circle in the near future!

SpeedBird2014
18th October, 2013 @ 02:26 pm PDT

Way to use crappy old technology to make something futuristic, guys.

Marc Stinebaugh
2nd June, 2014 @ 11:34 am PDT
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