Many private pilots buy their own planes to avoid the hassles of commercial flights. There are plenty on the aviation market to choose from, but you’re not going to see one that will take you all the way to your destination, like a hotel. At least until now. AeroMobil is a company that has developed an EV or hybrid car and plane combined that can drive and fly you to where you want to go.
What’s so special about the AeroMobil AM 4.0?
The AM 4.0 is the first car and airplane hybrid vehicle about to hit the market. According to MotorTrend, AeroMobil is the company that’s been developing this concept since 1990. If all goes to plan, it will be produced soon for delivery in 2023. It was initially supposed to launch a few years ago, but it was pushed back because of issues caused by the pandemic.
The company pegs the creation “the flying car,” designed after the mythical horse Pegasus, which was a horse that could spread its wings and fly. This vehicle can transform from a car to an airplane by opening its wings and taking off to the skies. As the AeroMobil site states, it can do it in under three minutes.
However, it will not take off from a highway, like a vehicle portrayed in the old Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie that obviously couldn’t actually fly in real life. It will need to travel to the airport by road and go through the typical pre-flight check-ups. From there, a pilot can take off and fly to an airport near your destination.
How does it work?
First of all, to operate it, you will need a private pilot’s license. The company is working on getting an EASA CS 23 certification in the European Union. The company is also seeking a US FAA Part 23 certification, which previously cleared the Terrafugia, a similar type of vehicle. However, you won’t be required to obtain a sport or recreational type license.
When you arrive at an airport, the pilot can just flip a switch. The wings will pull out and come forward, the rear bumper will swing down, and the propeller blades will tilt upright into position. The instrument panel on the dash will switch from driving readouts to aeronautical readings for flight.
Once clearance is given, the vehicle can take off as the wheels fold into the fuselage or body of the vehicle as far as they can go, reducing any drag. They’ll become the landing gear when the pilot approaches an airport close to your destination.
After landing, another switch flip, and the plane will return to car form so the pilot can drive you to your hotel or wherever you need to go. When you’re ready to return, you’ll be picked up by the car and taken to the airport, where the process starts all over again until you get home.
What else does the AeroMobil AM 4.0 offer?
While you could buy a Cessna, which is cheaper, and fly it, you won’t quite get the same experience as you will with the AM 4.0. Powering up the plane/car is a hybrid system consisting of an H-4 engine mounted mid-body, paired with an electric motor and an adaptive transmission driving the car on the road and switching to direct drive for flight.
AeroMobil says the powertrain enables it to produce 300 hp and can go from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 10 seconds. When it’s in airplane form, it will climb 1,200 feet a minute, needing only 1,300 feet of runway to take off. When landing, it only needs about 980 feet to land and come to a complete stop.
The AM 4.0 is a two-seater and pretty cramped, but AeroMobil plans on releasing a four-seater car and plane combo called AM Next in the future. This is good news for a small family needing to travel. It will be challenging to get in and out, but that’s to be expected since it needs to switch to airplane mode with an aerodynamic design.
A couple of drawbacks should be noted here. First, the company isn’t letting just anyone drive it. You must be a privately licensed pilot to operate it on the road and in the air. Also, it’s not going to be cheap. It will run you somewhere between $1.3 and $1.6 million. Even if you had the money, it could be a while before you get your hands on one because the company has been taking pre-orders for it since 2017.
But it’s still getting us nearer to a future where the skies are full of cars that we can fly around wherever we want. We’re one step closer to getting flying cars, except the AM 4.0 isn’t for the general public.