The First Commercial Flying Car: At last, there’s a flying car on the market that looks like it came straight out of a James Bond movie – two models to be exact: the PAL-V Liberty Pioneer and Liberty Sport.
PAL-V, a manufacturer in The Netherlands formally debuted the first commercial flying car on February 13, 2017, and already has pre-orders in the works. Manufacturing will commence later this year with delivery of the first models slated for late 2018. The sticker price starts at a cool $400,000 USD for the base model but climbs higher as you add on the bells and whistles: power heating, an electronic flight instrument display, a customized interior, and so on.
For the higher-end Pioneer model, PAL-V is also offering financing options in order to widen the product’s reach into the market and is planning for 90 Pioneer models to be completed and delivered in 2018.
The sleek styling of PAL-V Liberty is the creation of leading Italian design agencies that delivered an exciting cockpit feel on the road as well as in the air. The two-seater cabin with lowered suspension tilts into the curves of the road. A retractable, motorized propeller tucks inside the body and the rotor blades fold up neatly while in driving mode.
The prep time for flight is a mere 5 to 10 minutes for unfolding the two blades, pulling out the tail section and putting the propeller into place. The rotor has power assist to initialize the spin, but the rotor is completely wind powered in flight. The propeller, mounted behind the cockpit, is motor driven with 200 horsepower. This combination of rotor and propeller makes the Liberty not only one of the safest to fly but one of the easiest to operate for new pilots. It flies at 11,480 feet (3.500 m).
Upon landing, the pilot can easily pack away the flight components and begin driving to his destination. The vehicle is 6.6 feet (2 m) wide, and the blades are 35.3 feet (10.75 m) when unfolded. Empty, the Liberty weighs 1,413 pounds (664 kilograms).
PAL-V also has a mobile app that provides estimated travel times from airport to airport, time savings calculations, recommended fueling stops based on trip distance, etc.
Liberty operators will require both a driver’s license and a pilot’s license. Takeoff requires roughly 100-650 feet x 60 feet (90-200 meters x 20 meters) and should be clear of nearby obstacles, which means small grass or concrete airstrips, glider sites or ultralight airstrips are necessary.
In the Air
With a maximum airspeed of 112 mph (180 km/h), the gyrocopter will fly for 310 miles (499 kilometers), which is ample for quick jaunts between airports.
On the Ground
The PAL-V Liberty has a top ground speed of 100 mph (170 km/h) and goes from 0 to 60 in 9 seconds. It has a 26-gallon (98-liter) tank that takes premium gasoline. It can travel 817 miles (1,315 kilometers) between fill-ups, giving it a fuel efficiency of 31 mpg (13 km/l). The liberty engine delivers 100 horsepower performance.
Reaching for the Sky
This flying car started on the drawing board about 16 years ago. Now, PAL-V attributes the perfecting of their DVC tilting technology in 2005 for carrying the Liberty concept through to the market in 2017. No major compromises in road or air performance were required. Indeed, PAL-V has created something that’s equally fun to operate on the road as in the air.
To borrow heavily from a popular phrase, the sky is no longer the limit – thanks to the PAL-V Liberty.