PAL-V Flying Car Passes Road Tests

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PAL-V’s Liberty flying car design has passed its European road admission tests and is now street legal, according to an announcement from the company on Wednesday. Road testing of the drivable gyroplane has been underway since February 2020. PAL-V, which is based in the Netherlands, has also been working on European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification for the vehicle since 2015.

“It was very challenging to make a ‘folded aircraft’ pass all road admission tests,” said PAL-V CTO Mike Stekelenburg. “For me, the trick in successfully making flying car is to ensure that the design complies with both air and road regulations. I feel the energy and motivation in our team to push hard for the last few milestones and get the Liberty certified for flying too.”

PAL-V expects the Liberty’s EASA certification to be finalized by 2022. In the air, the two-seat gyroplane has a maximum speed of 180 km/h (97 knots), useful load of 246 kilograms (542 pounds) and range of 500 kilometers (270 NM). On the ground, it has a top speed of 160 km/h (100 MPH) and range of 1,315 kilometers (817 miles). It is powered by two Rotax 912iS engines. As previously reported by AVweb, the production version of the Liberty was unveiled at Switzerland’s the Geneva Motor Show in March 2018.

Video: PAL-V

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10 COMMENTS

  1. How would you use it, though? Drive from home to the airport, drive onto the field, prepare the machine for flight, preflight it, fly, land at another airport, stow the rotors, drive off the field to the destination. This looks awfully similar to “drive from home to the airport, drive onto the field, pull the plane out of the hangar, preflight it, fly to an airport, park the airplane, take an Uber to the destination.” It’s a very expensive way to a) avoid having to buy an airplane (which would be much faster) and b) avoid having to call an Uber – no?

    And, on the way back it gets harder: know how easy it is to just pull up to an airport where you’re not a registered user, and gain access to the runway in your vehicle?

    I love the creativity. Just wondering what it accomplishes.

    Maybe the benefit is in the fact that if weather ahead deteriorates you can land at an airport ahead of the weather, and either drive on the ground to the destination or drive to the other side of the front and take off again from another airport. Now that I think of it, in Europe (shorter distances generally, a lot of frontal weather) that might have real value.

  2. Flying cars have been a fav of Popular Mechanics magazine and other rags off and on for decades. As has been variously said in this comment section every time the subject comes up, it’s a great fantasy. Frankly it’s also become a trite fantasy.

  3. I am impressed with the quality, and auto performance so far. Meeting European auto emissions/noise standards is quite an accomplishment. Looks like it handles very well comparable to most small cars.

    It would be nice to see what it takes to configure as an autogiro. And where.

    Even when this flying machine is eventually certified, where will you be able to take advantage of the flying portion of this car? We all know that once at the airport, one can take advantage of this “transformer”. But with its car engineering, it would require a well manicured turf runway of some sorts at a minimum.

    Or launch from the street…with all the powerlines, traffic lights, signage, shopping malls, etc assuming you might be in a suburban setting. Downtown Chicago, NYC, or LA would be impossible as it would be in virtually every urban setting.

    The FAA has taken years to promulgate rules/regulations for MOSIAC ( not finished), LSA/Sport Pilot, ADS-B, etc. Now they would have to come up with rules/regulations how, where, and when to use a roadable autogiro. That will take far longer than the development and maturity this roadable autogiro has thus far attained.

    Molt Taylor accomplished it already, but could only take advantage of the airplane portion at the airport. Likewise for any subsequent owners.

    I guess one could drive from Chicago’s Loop downtown, taking the Kennedy Expressway in car mode, exit O’Hare, and make a quick stop at the GA side of O’Hare. Once you got you and your car past TSA…think about what that would look like, unfold, call CD, then Ground, taxi among airliners in your lightweight flying machine, and if successful (or survivable), launch. Being in or behind all that jet-blast should eliminate any need for rotor speed assist making your launch almost helicopter like as you leave the airspace at 90-95 kts.

    Your in good hands for car insurance, and Falcon for the autogiro portion. Let the location of the accident site determine if the auto or airplane insurance applies. I guess making an emergency landing onto a road could turn into a litigation nightmare though.

    I am sure Paul B could come up with an interesting teaching video about the option of using a road for emergency landing with a roadable autogiro. Or provide some video coaching regarding entering a controlled airport from the ground and leaving controlled airspace via flight. Maybe a video pilot report demonstrating driving, and safely launching from whatever roadway or farmer’s field, and the decision making skills it will take to pick the right launching and recovery point at the appropriate time. Should make an interesting Avweb video sure to go viral.

    Molt solved the flying car problem quite well. Not the launching and recovery portions outside of an airport. And at this point, neither has PAL-V.

  4. Jim H.: “Meeting European auto emissions/noise standards” would indeed be an accomplishment, but that isn’t what they claim – instead, they say that it will “pass all road admission tests.” The standards for motorcycles are far lower than they are for automobiles. This uses a chassis based on the Carver motorcycle, a three wheeler which allows the wheels to lean into the corners. Sadly, taking off from your street remains a fantasy – one of the limitations of flying cars is that it is generally a traffic violation to use public roads for runways.

    Jim L.: Based on its Carver origins, the handling is said to be quite good – not to be confused with typical trikes based on modified bikes.

    Thomas B.: You’re missing a distinct advantage of roadable aircraft – no need to pay for hanger rental (if, in fact, hangars are available!)

    • I would not leave my airplane parked, unattended, on a city street nor in most public parking lots. As cool as these things are it’s just too risky to leave a flying machine parked “in public” and hope it won’t be jacked with…

  5. Nor would I. If I didn’t have a garage or some other secure storage facilities, it’d probably have to stay at the airport. And I couldn’t see it as a daily drive – too much to risk.

    On the other hand, if I did have 400 to 600 grand lying around, I might have a lower risk aversion. And I’m I sure I’d at least have the garage!