The PAL-V Liberty, the world’s ‘first commercial flying car’, is now on sale priced around £425,000, with first customer deliveries scheduled for the end of 2018. Dutch manufacturer PAL-V claims Liberty is fully compliant with existing regulations and says it represents a “pivotal time in aviation and mobility history”.
The flying car has launched with the ‘Liberty Pioneer Edition’, which is priced around $599,000 on PAL-V’s website, before taxes. This price includes some flight instruction sessions, power heating and personalisation options.
Only 90 will be sold, with around half of them headed to Europe. After their delivery, the manufacturer will start delivery of the Liberty Sport model. That model is priced around $399,000 before taxes on the manufacturer’s website. It doesn’t have the same level of personalisation as the ‘Pioneer Edition’, but still comes with flying lessons. Options include power heating and carbonfibre detailing. The Liberty has a three-wheel layout and rotor blades on the roof which fold away. It’s effectively a gyrocopter aircraft with two engines. Its Rotax engine-based dual propulsion drivetrain includes one engine for driving and one for flying, with an unpowered large rotor on top that provides lift, while an engine-powered blade on the rear of the vehicle gives thrust. It has lowered suspension and a tilting two-person cockpit.
To convert the car from ‘drive’ to ‘fly’ mode or vice-versa takes around 5-10 minutes, as per PAL-V. The rotor mast unfolds automatically, but the driver must pull out the tail section, unfold two rotor blades and take out the prop to ready it to fly. You also need a licence to fly, and you can’t just take off and land anywhere; PAL-V says the Liberty requires take-off space of around 200×200 metres without obstacles. It says that small airstrips, aerodomes, glider sites and ultralight airfields will be most appropriate. The manufacturer says the noise that the Liberty generates in flight will be comparable to a small fixed wing aeroplane, saying it will be “much less” than a helicopter. The drive mode engine has 99bhp and a top speed of 100mph, with 0-62mph sprint taking 9.0 seconds. Fuel economy is a claimed 31mpg with a range of 817 miles. In the air, the Liberty can climb to a maximum altitude of 3,500 m, and its 197 bhp flying engine can propel it up to a top speed of 112 mph. Its range is a claimed 310 miles. The Liberty will be assembled in the Netherlands, with specific parts and systems manufactured by other companies in different countries. PAL-V collaborated with Italian design agencies for the car and conducted test programmes with concepts in 2009 and 2012.
Meanwhile, Dubai skies are all set to be abuzz with ‘driverless flying cars’ within months, the emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced recently, in what will mark another world’s first for the city. The RTA, in collaboration with Chinese firm Ehang, has carried out the first test run of an autonomous aerial vehicle, the Ehang 184, capable of carrying a human. The authority said it is set to launch operations very soon.