Manufacturing News from the Engineered Designer Perspective

Flying car maker looking for first orders for its sports car/gyrocopter PAL-V

A flying car that its manufacturer says is ready to go is now on sale from a company in the Netherlands. The PAL-V Liberty, the first commercial flying car in the world, complies with existing safety standards around the world, the company’s CEO said in a statement. While other flying car manufacturers are working on concepts that require modified regulations and even technologies that do not exist yet, the PAL-V is designed with proven gyrocopter technologies and in compliance with existing regulations, the statement said. It meets all legal standards of the European Aviation Safety Agency and the US Federal Aviation Administration for flight and local road standards. No relaxation of existing flying and driving regulations is required in most countries around the world. The vehicle has been in testing since 2009.

Called a dual-mode vehicle, the PAL-V has a semi-automatic conversion system that allows it to switch back and forth from driving mode to flying in three to five minutes. No tools are required as the mast folds and unfolds automatically. The cockpit also changes automatically. The driver manually pulls the tail and unfolds the rotor blades, which have a diameter of 10.75 metres, and the propeller, which are stowed on top and in the body when the vehicle is not flying. A licence to fly (and drive) is required to operate the vehicle.

The three-wheeled, two-passenger PAL-V is described as comparable in length to a Volkswagen Golf (4 metres), but with greater agility, driving like a sports car. Dynamic Curve Stabilizer technology gives it the ability to lean into curves on the ground, while the absence of fixed wings lets it turn quickly and steer precisely in the air. The craft can make a full turn in the air in just twenty metres, according to the manufacturer.

PAL-V Liberty Pioneer

It has a top ground speed of 160 kilometres per hour and an acceleration rate of 0–100 km/h in under nine seconds. The four-cylinder engine has dual propulsion that delivers 100 horsepower in drive mode, 200 hp in flight mode. For take-off, the maximum roll is 180 metres. For safety, the manufacturer recommends a runway of at least 280 m. Landing requires just 30 m.

Fuel economy in ground mode is given as 7.61/100km, with a range of 1,315 km. In flight it cruises at 140 km/h, with a maximum speed of 180 km/h and a maximum altitude of 3,500 metres. Flying range is 500 km for single-person operation. Fuel capacity is 100 litres of premium or super unleaded automobile fuel.

The vehicle is made of carbon fibre, titanium, and aluminum and weighs 664 kilograms (1,413 lbs) empty. The maximum take-off weight is 910 kg (2,006 lbs).

The manufacturer will release only ninety of the PAL-V Liberty models, called the Pioneer Edition, at a starting price of US$599,000. A sports model will follow, at $399,000. The Liberty has been introduced to selected clients in the US, Canada and Mexico, with deliveries expected to begin in 2018.

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