With the possibility of flying cars, is it time for Same Day Couriers Direct to be applying for planning permission for a runway and control tower at HQ? Shall we be advertising for pilots and air traffic controllers soon as well as dedicated drivers? The answer might be yes if all the hype surrounding flying vehicles comes to fruition. Let’s read some more.
We talked about electric air taxis last year when we took a glance around what might have seemed crazy predictions from 100 years ago. The electric air taxi from Volocopter continues development but this will really only be of use, if it gets off the ground, in urban environments and congested areas to whizz a passenger from point A to B. It’s probably not going to take passengers door to door. But the manufacturers are predicting commercial flights in two or three years.
Still on the air taxi concept around bustling cities is Wisk. This is another electric, fully autonomous flying taxi. In fact, Boeing, the largest aircraft company in the world have recently invested $450 million into the project. Here’s what Wisk are saying:
“Developing and certifying an all-electric, vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft is hard. Bringing to market a fully autonomous eVTOL air taxi designed for passenger use is even harder. And while our competitors are flying with pilots, we are tackling the challenge of autonomy to unlock safe, accessible, all-electric flight for everyone.”
Remember that acronym eVTOL – we are probably going to be seeing a lot more of it in the future.
What about flying cars though?
But the one that really caught our eye and might just herald the start of something seriously new for courier companies that rely on speed to meet their customer demands is the flying car powered by ordinary everyday fuel from the garage forecourt!
We found two European developments which are worth a good look. There will, of course, be many more globally in development but let’s celebrate some European brains and vision.
Small country – big ambitions
KleinVision hit the headlines last month when its car won airworthiness certification from the Slovak Transport Authority.
the car can reach speeds of over 100mph and altitudes above 8,000ft. The AirCar is powered by a BMW engine and runs on regular petrol. It takes two minutes and 15 seconds to transform from car into aircraft and, we think, quite a thing of beauty that you’d happily park anywhere.
Indeed the car has been through its paces flying 35 minutes between international airports Nitra and Bratislava in Slovakia.
However, this isn’t a new idea for company founder, Stefan Klein. We can go back over 30 years to 1989 when his diploma thesis “AeroMobile – A personal Vision of Transport System” laid the foundations for development. The overall concept was fully operative. However, the practical driving test in the existing infrastructure did not lead to optimal results due to the model overall width. But, Klein did not give up.
Almost ten years later in 1998 he unveiled Aeromobil II. This was the first prototype where the car/aircraft modes achieved actual transformation. The key step in the transformation process is the wing rotation around the main wing bolt. Both of these prototypes are on show at the Aviation Museum in Kosice, Slovakia.
It would be another ten years before the AirCar we see in the video left the drawing board with Klein’s new company KleinVision. Which brings us to 2022 and the possible reality of the vehicle actually entering production in the foreseeable future. Mind you, you will need the best part of a half million Euros to have this parked in your driveway.
Let’s now ‘fly’ over to the Netherlands where the PAL-V Liberty is ready to be ordered but you’ll need to be quick as only 90 of this Pioneer edition is to be manufactured.
Trivia for future quizzes: PAL-V stands for Personal Air Land Vehicle.
This is a very clever and innovative concept which has actually been undergoing extensive testing since 2009. After being the first flying car to get road permission for Europe, PAL-V is now also the first to complete the full certification basis with EASA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency. Based on PAL-V’s ten years of test results, EASA specialist teams finalized the requirements for the PAL-V Liberty. The issuance after industry consultation shows the confidence of the European authorities and the maturity of the design and the company. The final phase is compliance demonstration before car flying becomes reality for PAL-V’s customers with 2023 being the anticipated handover of the first keys to a customer.
The PAL-V is potentially a ‘vehicle’ that will tick the eco boxes too as when in flight mode it is wind powered. The PAL-V Liberty is not a helicopter. In flying mode, the PAL-V Liberty is a gyroplane. The difference? The rotor of the helicopter is powered by an engine. The blades of the PAL-V Liberty are not powered, they are powered by the wind. As long there is airflow, they rotate. They act like a continuously open parachute.
What is the problem with flying cars?
However, have you already spotted the problem for Same Day Couriers Direct here in the UK? Yes, it’s the price – before even worrying about landing strips and air traffic control. These flying cars are clearly aimed at the very niche market of the supercar variety for the moment.
Dr Stephen Wright, senior research fellow in avionics and aircraft, at the University of the West of England, sums up the AirCar as “the lovechild of a Bugatti Veyron and a Cesna 172”.
“Anyone can make an aeroplane but the trick is making one that flies and flies and flies for the thick end of a million hours, with a person on board, without having an incident.”
“I can’t wait to see the piece of paper that says this is safe to fly and safe to sell.” Wright said.
Drone deliveries are far more likely to be with us as common place before any flying vans hit the roads and skies. No need to duck just yet when the delivery driver pulls up!