PAL-V Liberty

First flying car goes into production

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Pie in the sky or a dream that’s about to come true?

Everyone remembers the incredible flying car from the 60s movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Or for that matter the drive in, fly out AMC Matador from the 1974 Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun.

Of course they were just make believe vehicles but fast forward and a Dutch company is on the verge of making the flying car a reality.

PAL-V is now taking orders and has just opened a new factory in The Netherlands, with production of its Liberty Pioneer flying car set to kick off “imminently”.

The PAL-V Liberty is billed as the world’s first “roadable” aircraft, with a set of rotor blades that unfold from the roof to literally lift the car off the ground.

But while it may look like a mini helicopter, it’s not so.

The Liberty is actually is a gyroplane because the rotor blades are are not powered by the engine.

The power to turn them is generated by the wind itself, or more specifically by the flow of air over the blades which causes them to rotate.

Their operation is likened to a continuously open parachute.

The idea for the flying car dates back to 1999 when PAL-V co-founder John Bakker started flying.

Like every pilot he became frustrated because flights involved departing from one location and setting down somewhere else, both of them equally inconvenient – not be mention having to leave the car and plane/helicopter behind.

So Bakker embarked on an ambitious plan to build a car that could actually fly, a dream cherished by mankind for more than 100 years.

The prototype PAL-V One proved it could be done with a successful flight in 2012.

Now the company is taking deposits on a production version – the PAL-V Liberty – a car that seats two, is powered by a 160kW flight certified petrol engine and has a top speed of 180 km/h – that’s on the ground or in the air.

But to get off the ground the maximum weight is limited to 910kg and a runway of 280 metre is recommended.

Once you’re in the air the Liberty has a maximum operating altitude of 3500 metres and cruising range of 500km, with 30 minutes of fuel in reserve – or about 100-150km on the ground.

Design and construction of the car cum aircraft is being supervised by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to make sure it meets the airworthiness certification process. 

“Most parts are ordered for the first machines and the first are in house, we will commence construction with an eye on deliveries to our first global clients in 2018 in to 2019,” CEO Robert Dingemanse said.

The cost of this incredibly cool flying machine?

The PAL-V Liberty Pioneer Edition with all the bells and whistles retails for US$599,000 (A$786,000).

After building 90 of them PAL-V is planning a run of the cheaper Liberty Sport, expected to be priced from US$399,000 (A$523,000).