the world’s first production flying car will next appear at the Farnborough International Airshow
After making an appearance at the Geneva International Motor Show in March, the Pal-V Liberty will be on display at the Farnborough International Airshow in England very soon, from July 16 through 22. The vehicle is equally suited to either venue, because it’s a flying car — the world’s first production model flying car, according to Pal-V, the Dutch company that has been developing it since 2001. More specifically, the Liberty is a three-wheeled automobile that converts into a two-seat gyroplane.
If all goes as planned, the Liberty will be cleared for takeoff by international aviation and transportation authorities by 2020, and deliveries will begin shortly thereafter. As is often the case with new aircraft, the certification date has been pushed back at least a couple times. The company continues to accept orders for the Liberty, which is available in two models: the fully loaded Liberty Pioneer Edition and the base model Liberty Sport. The estimated price of the Pioneer Edition is about US$600,000 (RM2.43 million), and it’s roughly US$400,000 (RM1.62 million) for the Sport. Pal-V plans to build only 90 examples of the Pioneer Edition. Reserving a Liberty requires a non-refundable deposit of US$25,000 (RM102,000) for the Pioneer and US$10,000 (RM40,500) for the Sport. (Pal-V says it will refund the deposits if the Liberty fails to receive certification.)
Both Liberty models will have a maximum speed of just under 100 mph (161 kph) in driving mode and a zero-to-100-kph time of less than 9 seconds. In flying mode, both will have a high cruising speed of nearly 160 kph and a range of about 403 kph with two people aboard and 500 kph with just a pilot. Pal-V recommends a runway — paved or level grass — of at least 900 feet (275m) for takeoff and a 100-foot (30m) strip for landing.
It’s perhaps fitting that the world’s first production flying car is a gyroplane — an unusual aircraft design that harkens back to the earliest days of powered flight and, while never completely disappearing, has always lived on the edge of mainstream aviation. Unlike a helicopter, a gyroplane’s blades are not powered by a motor; instead, they spin freely and generate lift as a result of their forward motion through the air. The vehicle’s forward thrust is provided by a separate motor and propeller, more akin to a fixed-wing airplane. That’s why the Liberty needs so much space to take off; it cannot rise vertically like a conventional helicopter. But one of the primary advantages of the design is a much lower stall speed and easier handling.
The Liberty converts from an automobile into a gyroplane in about 10 minutes — the amount of time it takes to unfold the blades, which are bundled on the roof when the vehicle is in driving mode.