The PAL-V Liberty, the world’s first production flying car, can now be ordered, having made its public debut at the Geneva motor show around a year before the first examples arrive on roads (and in skies).
Dutch manufacturer PAL-V claims the Liberty is fully compliant with existing regulations and says it represents a “pivotal time in aviation and mobility history”.
The flying car has launched with the Liberty Pioneer Edition, which is priced from €499,000 (around £445,500) before taxes. This price includes power heating, personalisation options and some flight instruction sessions.
Only 90 examples will be sold, with around half of them headed to Europe. After their delivery, PAL-V will start delivery of the Sport model, which is priced from €299,000 (around £254,000) before taxes.
The Sport doesn’t have the same level of personalisation available as the Pioneer Edition but still comes with flying lessons, while options include power heating and carbonfibre detailing.
The Liberty has a three-wheel layout and fold-away rotor blades on the roof. It's effectively a gyrocopter aircraft with two engines. Its Rotax engine-based dual propulsion drivetrain includes one engine for driving and one for flying. An unpowered large rotor on top creates lift, while an engine-powered blade at the rear provides thrust.
The PAL-V has low suspension and a tilting two-person cockpit.
To convert the car from driving mode to flying mode or vice versa takes around 5-10 minutes, according to PAL-V. The rotor mast unfolds automatically, but the driver must pull out the tail section, unfold the two rotor blades and take out the propeller to ready it to fly.
You also need a flying license, of course, and you can’t just take off and land anywhere; PAL-V says the Liberty requires take-off space of around 90-200x200 metres without obstacles. It says that small airstrips, aerodomes, glider sites and ultralight airfields will be most appropriate.
PAL-V says the noise that the Liberty generates in flight will be comparable to a small fixed wing aeroplane – “much less” than a helicopter.
The Liberty's drive mode engine has 99bhp and a top speed of 100mph, with 0-62mph sprint taking 9.0sec. Fuel economy is a claimed 31mpg with a range of 817 miles.
In the air, the flying car can climb to a maximum altitude of 3500m, and its 197bhp flying engine can propel it up to a top speed of 112mph. Its range is a claimed 310 miles.
The Liberty will be assembled in the Netherlands, with specific parts and systems manufactured by other companies in different countries.
PAL-V collaborated with Italian design agencies for the car and conducted test programmes with concepts in 2009 and 2012.
Robert Dingemanse, the company's CEO, said: "After years of hard work, beating the technical and qualification challenges, our team succeeded in creating an innovative flying car that complies with existing safety standards determined by regulatory bodies around the world."