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Slovak Flying Car Prepares For Take-Off

posted 20 Nov 2013, 06:12 by Mpelembe   [ updated 20 Nov 2013, 06:12 ]

Slovak designer Stefan Klein says he's fulfilling his childhood dream, designing a flying car that he hopes will soon be ready for commercialisation. He sees the greatest potential for his invention, in countries with poor transport infrastructure.

BRATISLAVASLOVAKIA (2013) (REUTERS) -  It's a childhood dream come true for designer Stefan Klein - a flying car. No waiting at crowded check-in desks at airports anymore; just getting into a futuristic looking vehicle, driving around town or just taking off and flying away.

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Klein's passion for flying cars developed very early on in life. Coming from a family of pilots, he studied engineering and later became head of the department of transport design at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in the Slovak capital of Bratislava.

The 52-year-old engineer and designer, himself an amateur pilot, started working on the flying car in the early 1990s.

"When you travel by plane the distance of one thousand kilometres, you spend most of the time just waiting, and that was the entire idea," said Klein.

Now, more than 15 years later, he says 'Aeromobil 2.5' is ready to drive on roads as well as fly.

"I wanted to integrate the modern communication technology as well as designer aspects so that the object is attractive and doesn't look bizarre on the road," he said. It's not the final prototype yet, Klein adds, but so far tests have been successful.

"On the highway it reached up to 130 kilometres per hour without any problem."

The aeromobil is six metres long and 16 metres wide with a wingspan of 8.2 metres. It can carry two people and weighs 450 kilograms. With its Rotax 912 engine, the aeromobil can drive up to 160 kilometres per hour and needs 7.5 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres.

If it wasn't for its design, the aeromobil wouldn't be far removed from any 'normal' car in terms of its technology. But the key moment comes when the car starts opening its wings.

"This is the transformation when the wings open within a few seconds. This is the key moment when the angle of the wing inclination is changed. A part of them tilts which simulates the rotation of the (plane) body," Klein explained.

The aeromobil takes off at a speed of 130km/hour and flies at a speed of 200km/hour.

Klein and his team are aware that their flying car won't solve the problems of global transportation.

"Anyway it can be very interesting for countries where (transport) infrastructure doesn't exist, where two places 700 kilometres apart are connected only by provisional roads. There it could radically change transport conditions. For the countries where transportation by small aircraft is frequently used - like the United StatesAustraliaNew Zealand or Africa, this can bring a new quality impulse. The same applies for countries where small aircraft transport is starting to be used, like China or Russia, where the distances are huge and the infrastructure almost doesn't exist," he said.

The new generation of the flying car - Aeromobil 3 - is scheduled to come out in 2014. The next model is to be produced in a limited series, but the hope is it will finally become available for people to buy. The developing team is also thinking about a solution for a crucial problem - where should the flying cars can take off, if not on airport runways. An idea is to build special runways close to highways or near big cities.