European flying car technology sold to China

Image Source: Klein Vision

KleinVision, a company based in Slovakia, has confirmed that its flying car prototype, known as AirCar, has been purchased by a Chinese company, Hebei Jianxin Flying Car Technology Company. The AirCar, powered by a BMW engine and traditional fuel, completed a successful 35-minute flight between Slovakian airports in 2021, transitioning from car to aircraft in just over two minutes. KleinVision sold exclusive manufacturing and usage rights to a Chinese firm for deployment in a specific region of China. China’s interest in flying transport solutions is evident, with recent advancements including passenger-carrying drones and electric flying taxis. An issue for AirCar is that, unlike vertical take-off and landing drones, AirCar requires a runway for operation, meaning that infrastructure will likely need to be built before AirCar becomes commercially viable alongside other challenges such as regulation, and public acceptance; however, aviation experts suggest that China’s proactive stance toward flying transport may accelerate progress, as it has with the adoption of electric cars. While the exact price paid remains undisclosed, the technology garnered attention after receiving airworthiness certification and featuring in a YouTube video.

While the idea of the AirCar fulfils many long-held dreams of flying cars, and it seems to fit the bill, the issues faced with regards to infrastructure and regulation mean that seeing the AirCar take to the skies commercially is still likely a long way off. The AirCar will likely require a pilot’s licence to operate, meaning it is more likely to be used for private hire transport rather than being available to the general public. Another big issue is that the AirCar requires a runway, this being the case, rather than competing with ground-based vehicles, the AirCar is more directly in competition with helicopters, the only advantage being it can be driven out of the airport rather than having to switch to a different vehicle. Finally, the working model of the AirCar required an internal combustion engine at a time when the majority of the transportation industry is undergoing electrification. If the AirCar infrastructure is built and the manufacturers can overcome the extra weight of an electric powertrain, or another low emission powertrain can be implemented, it may not be too long before this kind of flying transportation takes to the skies in earnest.

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