From classic science fiction to cartoons like the Jetsons, the idea of flying cars has danced in creative minds for decades.
The reality might have actually arrived.
A flying car capable of hitting speeds of 100 mph while flying as high as 8,000 feet has garnered approval from the Slovak Transport Authority.
The certificate of airworthiness comes after the AirCar completed 70 hours of rigorous flight testing, according to Klein Vision, the company that built the machine.
“This flight starts a new era of dual transportation vehicles,” Stefan Klein said after successfully flying one of the test flights last summer. “It opens a new category of transportation and returns the freedom originally attributed to cars back to the individual.”
The test flights included more than 200 takeoffs and landings and passed European Aviation Safety Agency standards, the company said.
“AirCar is no longer just a proof of concept,” said Anton Zajac, co-founder of the company. “It has turned science fiction into reality.”
So what exactly are we talking about?
The AirCar is a hybrid car-aircraft with a BMW engine that runs on traditional gasoline. The three-wheeled vehicle takes about 135 seconds to convert from a car to a plane before taking flight.
“The automated transition from road vehicle into an air vehicle and vice versa, deploying/retracting wings and tail is not only the result of pioneering enthusiasm, innovative spirit, and courage,” said Dr. Branko Smith, a senior technical fellow with Boeing. “It is an outcome of excellent engineering and professional knowledge.”
Because of its flight ability, a licensed pilot must be at the controls.
The company showed off the vehicle last June when it flew one of its test flights from two airports in Slovakia, Nitra, and Bratislava. Video of that flight was posted on YouTube and has drawn more than 6 million views.
The company said it hopes to fly from London to Paris in the coming weeks or months.
The AirCar is not the first of its type to get certified, but it does have aeronautic experts excited at its prospects.
“If the company which is involved in the certification has made the business case, this will progress in creating a product that can reach the market,” Kyriakos Kourousis, chair of the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Airworthiness & Maintenance Specialist Group, told CNN.
He added that there are other substantial benefits beyond the wow factor.
“It’s the scale that’s going to create a lot of new opportunities for employment and for new technologies to be developed,” Kourousis said.
René Molnár, the director of the Transport Authority of Slovakia, told the Daily Mail his agency has closely monitored the AirCar development from its start in 2017.
“Its certification was both a fascinating and challenging task,” he said.
The company has not released any details on the potential cost of an AirCar or when they might be available to the public.
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