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Sci-fi visions of a world where we travel by air taxi could be one step closer to becoming a reality.
A flying car that can reach heights of 8,000ft and speeds of over 100mph has recently been issued with a certificate of airworthiness by the Slovak Transport Authority.
The vehicle is a car-aircraft hybrid, named the AirCar, which takes just over 2 minutes to convert from a car into an aircraft. It is fitted with a BMW engine that runs on the same standard petrol as cars.
To pass the certification, the car had to perform more than 200 take-offs and landings and go through 70 hours of flight testing.
So far, the flying car has completed a 35-minute flight between Nitra and Bratislava, in Slovakia, and there are hopes that it will fly from Paris to London soon.
Flying cars are attracting a lot of interest from investors, and significant funding is being ploughed into their development.
This is not the first flying hybrid vehicle to make it to certification stage. Another example is the PAL-V Liberty, a 3-wheeled vehicle that flies like a gyrocopter. The PAL-V Liberty is road legal in Europe and is now aiming for the European Union Aviation Safety Agency certification.
Currently, the AirCar requires a pilot’s license to fly and must take off and land like a conventional plane. But its creators are aiming to develop an unpiloted air-taxi service that uses vertical take-off and landing.
“It’s exciting to see that the possibility of casual air travel is just around the corner, but it’s crucial that we fully understand the safety implications of flying these vehicles before they are rolled out on a wider scale.
“We are still grappling with the safety issues around driverless cars on our roads, so travelling in unpiloted cars in the air is taking us even further into the unknown.
“It’s important to develop a robust legal framework, which places responsibility on vehicle manufacturers in the event of an accident or vehicle failure. This should put the onus on manufacturers to increase vigilance on safety issues and give passengers greater assurance.”
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