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World’s first flying cars get ready to take Dubai residents from door to door



An aviation company in Dubai has signed a deal with a Dutch business to bring the world’s first flying car to the Middle East and Africa.

Aviterra, an aviation and aerospace component manufacturing company, will buy more than 100 of PAL-V’s Liberty flying cars and invest in the European company, they said in a joint statement this week.

While Aviterra will be the sole agent for the Liberty car in the Middle East and Africa, the companies did not specify a timetable for when deliveries will begin in the region.

The two-seat Liberty – described as the world’s first flying car because it combines a gyroplane and a car – is akin to something from a James Bond movie in how it transforms from a road vehicle into an aircraft.

eVTOL will be able to use it from port to port. This vehicle will be able to be used from home to home

Mouhanad Wadaa, managing director, Aviterra

In drive mode, the aircraft’s propellers and rear flaps are stored on the roof and in the back of the three-wheeled vehicle, allowing it to reach 100kph in under nine seconds – a rate comparable to a Toyota Hybrid Camry – and has a top speed of 160kph.

Changing into an aircraft takes five minutes, as the helicopter-like blades rise from the roof and the flaps extend from the back. The body of the vehicle also lifts up and two hatches open to reveal the gyroplane’s rear propeller.

As an aircraft, it has a flight range of between 400km and 500km and a maximum speed of 180kph. It can reach an altitude of 11,000 feet.

It requires an airstrip or airfield stretching at least 200 metres to take off and land.

The current crop of Liberty flying cars run on regular petrol, but they will be configured to use electricity “once the batteries get lighter”, said Robert Dingemanse, chief executive and founder of PAL-V, told The National.

“To have a sensible range of about 500km flying on one leg, current battery technology only allows you to do something like 100km.”

The Liberty, priced at $799,000, is aimed at high-end, corporate and government customers. “This mobility is valued by [high-net-worth] individuals, by companies and by governments,” Mr Dingemanse said.

“There are different operations like border control, homeland security, military, but also for fast first responders, for example, to get to deserted or hard-to-reach areas.”

Home to home

Abu Dhabi and Dubai have made firm commitments to introduce advanced air mobility in the form of eVTOL – electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft – flying taxis in the coming years.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority signed agreements in February to have air taxis in the city in the next two years, while the Abu Dhabi Investment Office signed an agreement in October last year to introduce all-electric air taxi operations in 2026.

Adam Goldstein, chief executive of US company Archer Aviation, told a conference in the UAE capital last month that he expected to see eVTOL in the skies by next year.

“As early as 2025 and as late as 2026, you will see eVTOLs flying around Abu Dhabi [and] Dubai … trips that used to take 60 to 90 minutes on the ground, we can fly you in 10 minutes,” Mr Goldstein told the Investopia conference in Abu Dhabi in February.

The major difference between an eVTOL and the Liberty flying car, however, is that the latter offers door-to-door transport.

Mouhanad Wadaa, managing director of Aviterra and one of the founders of private aviation company Jetex, described the flying car as “a new innovation that will change the whole area of air mobility”.

“It will fly from your home to your destination unlike the eVTOL,” he told The National. “This vehicle will be able to be used from home to home.”

Mr Dingemanse said previous innovations have been launched as flying cars, but they did not qualify because they did not travel on the roads. They are “air buses because they bring you from station to station as public transportation”, he added.

“A real flying car in our definition flies and drives and is transportation from door to door. And we are, by far, 10 years ahead of anybody else in the world,” he said, referring to the certification process, which began in 2012 with its first test flight.

While there are other flying cars being developed, the Liberty will be the first to market, Mr Dingemanse added.

Spanish company Alef Aeronautics, backed by US venture capitalist Tim Draper, is developing a two-seat eVTOL vehicle. It has received its special airworthiness certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration and the company expects to start production of a final version at the end of 2025.

Alef said it received about 3,000 pre-orders for the vehicle, which costs $300,000.

Slovakia-based KleinVision is also developing a flying vehicle, called Aircar, powered by a BMW engine and conventional fuel. It requires a runway to take off and land.

It was issued with a certificate of airworthiness by the Slovak Transport Authority in 2022. On Wednesday, the company announced it sold exclusive rights to manufacture and use the aircraft within a “specific geographical region” of China to Hebei Jianxin Flying Car Technology.

Final stages

PAL-V, which stands for Personal Air and Land Vehicle, is in the final stage of its certification process with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.

“We have full agreement with EASA on what we have to prove now. All the critical things, we have already done and tested over the last six, seven years,” Mr Dingemanse said.

He expects to begin deliveries in the first half of next year, starting with the Netherlands. “We are limited in production and we are already sold out for the first three years,” Mr Dingemanse said. “We are working on expanding the production capacity.”

After the vehicle is approved by the EASA, Aviterra will seek approval from the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority and the various regulators in the region, Mr Wadaa said.

The deal with Aviterra is PAL-V’s biggest to date, with the current order book now standing at more than €150 million ($160 million).

PAL-V is funded by 220 investors from all over the world. While several individuals from the Middle East have invested, Aviterra is the first corporate investor.

The agreement also includes an investment in PAL-V through Loggia Investment, the investment arm of Aviterra.

Pilot training

Gyroplane flying “is the easiest and the most safe way of flying there is”, Mr Dingemanse said.

Buyers who want to operate the Liberty flying car must first undergo special pilot training. “We have created a full e-learning package for the theoretical part. We have special training for our pilots at a training institute for our customers in the Netherlands,” he explained.

“But we are planning to open in Italy, and we probably will work with Jetex also to open something in the UAE for training.”

Pilots must have a minimum of 45 hours of lessons before they can operate the flying car, Mr Dingemanse added.

Updated: March 28, 2024, 11:29 AM

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