Flying cars are finally coming: here are 3 cars that will hit the skies soon

The flying car sector has been stuck in a static pattern between unprecedented promise and marketable reality for decades. But the industry may be approaching a tipping point, with three crews now close to introducing the concept — and to be clear, we’re not talking about eVTOL planes, but road cars with wings or rotors — into production.

Unlike eVTOLs, flying cars already fit into existing organizational structures. Of the three models being brought to market, two will initially be sold as kits, which requires a less arduous approval process. The $300,000 Liberty Sport from Dutch international company PAL-V is being tested for sanction by the European Aviation Safety Agency as a ready flying machine (a process that will take at least 18 months) and will require a pilot’s gyroscope license. With first deliveries expected for 2024, this three-wheeled vehicle will offer a 100hp twin Rotax engine – only one engine will be used while on the road – allowing it to operate over cities where single-engine aircraft are banned.

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PAL-V International Liberty Sport worth $300,000

PAL-V International Liberty Sport worth $300,000

On the street, Klein Vision’s AirCar looks like a futuristic Italian supercar (and will be built to European M1 standards for low-production passenger cars), but at the touch of a button the tail extends and the wings open from a hidden cabin. After the four-wheeled prototype gained approval from Slovak regulators as an experimental aircraft, the company has begun work on a second version, now with a 280-horsepower flying engine from South African-based Adept Airmotive. A basic pilot’s license will be required to fly the plane, which will have a cruising speed of 186 mph and will be priced to compete with four-seat general aviation such as the Cessna 172 and Cirrus SR22. Klein Vision’s next step will be to develop a complete model certified under European rules for CS-23 light aircraft, which the company says will take at least two years to reach the market.

Samson Sky, of Oregon, expects to begin deliveries of its Switchblade flying car in 2024, after 14 years of development. The tricycle offers what its founder Sam Busfield calls the Skybrid system — a gas engine that generates power for one electric motor driving the prop and for another (or perhaps two) motors for the wheels. Starting at $170,000, the Switchblade will be sold as a kit under the FAA’s pilot/home-built category but is being designed and tested to meet the most stringent small aircraft certification standards. Bousfield claims more than 2,100 orders are on hand from 53 countries.

Klein Vision's AirCar in shape on the road

Klein Vision’s AirCar in shape on the road

Andy Wall, PAL-V Director of Sales, confirms that Liberty “can [operate] independent of airport infrastructure” and that their annual production could increase to 10,000 units—which suggests, when the industry really takes off, something is free for everyone: cars convert into planes and soar into the skies wherever and whenever. But owners will most likely keep their devices at home in the garage and drive Plus, not everyone is convinced that a flying car will reach anything close to adoption levels everywhere.

“There are a lot of compromises,” says Richard Aboulafia, general manager of Washington, D.C.-based consultancy AeroDynamic Consulting, of the flying car’s form factor. “This is a convenient place, and small at that.” This was strongly refuted by Samson Sky’s Bousfield, who said, “I don’t see this as a suitable place. This is the future.”

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