By on October 27, 2013

Most Americans only know Bratislava for two equally horrifying reasons: it is the setting for the blowtorch-to-the-eyeball-scene in Hostel and it’s the place where they make the Porsche Cayenne. Before anybody gets too upset, Hostel was entirely fiction… but before anybody feels too relieved, the Cayenne is definitely real.

Now there’s a third reason to remember the former Gem Of The Eastern Bloc: a flying car!

The claimed specs, subject to verification and/or eventual reality, are:

  • 992 pounds dry
  • 100 horsepower from a Rotax 912 light-sport aircraft engine
  • 124mph airspeed
  • 430 mile range in the air

Speaking as someone who lives about three miles from a general-aviation airport, I would be eager as all get out to own something like this. Just drive to the airport and plot a relatively direct flight path to the nearest GA airport to your destination, then drive from there. Manhattan is a ten hour drive from my front door, but it would be about five hours by AeroMobil. The advantages are even greater if you live in a region where the highways don’t necessarily run straight to one’s destination, as is the case for most of the American South, or if you live in traffic-jammed parts of the country.

Potential drawbacks are… oh, let’s not kid ourselves, there isn’t the room to list the potential drawbacks of a hugely expensive and complex ultralight flying car. Still, watch the video and tell me you wouldn’t rather have that than something similarly expensive like, oh, a Bentley Flying Spur…. That’s what I thought!

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31 Comments on “Flying Cars From Bratislava...”


  • avatar

    THESE ARE NOT “FLYING CARS”.

    These are: “driving airplanes” and “driving helicopters”

    Until you can show me a “CAR” that has the same footprint as an S-Class (or smaller), which can drive along regular highways, park in regular garages and requires NO EXTRA ASSEMBLY than the flick of a switch to put it into “fly mode”, you’re just lying.

    If it has wings or rotors it isn’t a car.

    • 0 avatar

      It looked to me like this might just be close enough. The video made me think the transition is automatic, and the car seemed to have no trouble negotiating normal roads. Because every ounce of weight has been carefully calculated to get it in the air, it’s bound to be pretty light and therefore have better fuel economy than one might think.

      That being said, the flying looked a little shaky, and I notice it didn’t get too far off the ground. As Jack said, a lot cooler than the Flying Spur if they can fix that …

      D

      • 0 avatar

        It looks like it might still be flying in ground effects, a point when the wing is still not providing enough lift on its own and flight is rather unsteady.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Watch any really light aircraft and it does essentially the same thing while in ground effect. This is due to the simple fact that winds near the ground–500 feet or less normally–are unstable and affected by any obstacle from a tree to a house to a hill. Even in such wide-open areas as most airports, ground level air is unstable. Very light aircraft are extremely sensitive to these airs.

        As for why it didn’t fly very high I can only assume that until it is fully certified it probably isn’t allowed to fly more than about 100 feet off the ground for simple safety’s sake. Nearly every prototype flight we see of civil aircraft based on all-new designs have that craft flying low and slow simply to proof the design. Every single flying car we’ve seen since that first model 80 years ago and been restricted to almost too-safe envelopes to the point that some models that could be viable simply can’t build up enough speed for stable flight and still land safely on the runway in a straight line test flight. Runways like Area 51’s 4-mile main runway are needed. Prior to extensive use of radar for air traffic control, the designers would fly the thing how and where they wanted to test the real capabilities of the craft. We no longer have that privilege.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Maybe we’ll just have to wait for Musk to develop the “grasshopper” option for the Model S. :^)

      http://goo.gl/doaB9

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    《Cell block door opens》yes ya’ll read that right.

    I have returned to American society after a political imprisonment. To say…

    `In Soviet Russia…car fly you!`

    Oh wait, Bratislava….wrong Bloc country….

  • avatar
    BigWill

    It is *UTTERLY* unforgivable to leave out the third reason Americans would know Bratislava: those Two Wild and Crazy Guys, Yortuk and Georg Festrunk, on Saturday Night Live came from there.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The Cayenne sees its structural components built in Bratislava, but they are shipped back to Leipzig for final assembly. The Touareg and Q7, however, are fully assembled in Bratislava. And what’s with all the Cayenne hate? Even if they are driven by upper-crust soccer moms who can’t or don’t appreciate the capabilities of such machines, I think the Cayenne definitely lives up to the Porsche heritage. What’s more, it allows Porsche to be profitable enough to build some of the models that you’re more excited about. Everbody, stop picking on the Cayenne…lol

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      +1 I would never buy one, but if Porsche can sell all of them they (VW) can build, why the heck not?

      As for Bratislava – from the movie “Eurotrip”:

      “Velcome to Bratislava – eez good szing you are here in zee Summer, in zee Vinter eet’s VERY depressing…” as a dog trots by with a human hand in it’s mouth!

      Love that movie!

      Actually, I have spent a couple days there, it is a beautiful city. Halfway between Budapest and Prague.

  • avatar
    JoelW

    Wow! I can’t wait to trade my Terrafugia in on one of those!!

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I had a dog who ran like that thing flies. Maybe needs bigger vertical stabilizers?

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    “low flying” is an expression I use to describe high speed driving… This is literal though.
    Like any duel purpose vehicle it is not ever going to be good at either driving or flying but this one can do both and that is impressive.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    Looks photoshopped, eh?

    The wing span does not seem like being even remotely enough to support this contraption in the air. Also, the video nicely skips taking off and landing moments.

    • 0 avatar
      ClayT

      Looks like plenty of chord though. Might be enough surface to lift it. It is light.
      What I see that is odd though, not enough angle of attack to be lifting off or even flying. Sure, the flaps are down a notch but the wing looks level to almost a down angle…

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Didn’t skip the take-off, even if it did skip the landing. However, that takeoff was quite typical of any light aircraft. HOWEVER, the weight of this thing is much too light for most cars and simultaneously almost too heavy for an equivalently-sized airplane. The wings ARE long enough, but lack some of the chord needed for real lift. This thing will fly like something between a modern Cessna 152 and an old Spad.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Secret Agent Jack Baruth as you’ve never seen him before in…

    (Cue dramatic opening shot of Jack in the Areomobil)

    “The Man With The Golden Member”

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    By my guess, that vehicle’s wide track makes it a very poor design for landing maneuvers. Assuming it ever gets airborne in the first place, imagine touching down in a crosswind, with the upwind wing lifting. Even with a modest degree of roll, the downwind tire would hit the ground while the high-side tire was still pretty high. Setting that high upwind tire down smoothly would be a challenge. Virtually all airplanes have a pair of gear wheels set narrow, at near fuselage width, but this design has a wheel track of about 1/5 the wingspan.

    I’m no engineer or pilot, as my terminology proves, but this seems right, and the Aeromobil’s design does not.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Some of the best fighter aircraft in WWII had a very wide track, as did many more modern fighters in every part of the world. It was the narrow gear that tended to generate more landing accidents. With a wider wheelbase it’s EASIER to set down the upwind tire, not harder, as you don’t risk over controlling as drastically.

      On the other hand, with the wings essentially mid-fuselage vs high-wing which is typical of most light aircraft it is easier to touch a wingtip to the ground as well as the aircraft itself slightly less stable, which allows for better in-flight agility. Yes, the wing is still on top of the craft, but the combined shapes make it less stable than it could be.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I want one with a tailhook so I can commute to the aircraft carrier

  • avatar

    I love Bratislava. I have driven from Vienna to Bratislava once in my 335d. It is a very nice place to visit. Although Bratislava is less than an hour away by car from Vienna, it is less crowed & slower paced. Please be sure to stop immediately at border crossing to purchase Slovak vignette if you plan on visiting it, else cops will find excuse to fine you.

  • avatar
    PCP

    Flying cars are bad cars and bad airplanes. Always will be. Useless and ridiculous. But they would make ‘normal’ car accidents look quite boring, though.

  • avatar
    Toshi

    1) That’s not an ultralight, Jack. Ultralights have a strict definition, and one of those definitions is 255 lbs or less dry weight, iirc. The weight and speed seem tailored to fit in the Light Sport Aircraft category, on the other hand.

    2) I have serious doubts that air cooled Rotax could meet Euro 5 or EPA Tier 2 emissions standards.

    3) I have similar doubts about whether the NHTSA would allow that thing on our roads, either. Note lack of headlights, just as a starter. The Terrafugia is a bit of a mess, IMO, but they’re trying to do it right. This effort, especially with only flying in ground effect as mentioned in prior posts, looks like a hack job based off the minute of video provided.

    • 0 avatar
      AlternateReality

      Close to 1,000 lbs. dry makes it too heavy for LSA, which caps total gross weight at 1,320 lbs for non-amphib aircraft. (I fly an LSA that weighs just over 500 lbs. empty, without fuel.) This is a hurdle that Terrafugia will have to surmount, too, if it wants the Transition to stay in light-sport.

      The weight limitation is a big deal. In short, higher weights = higher stall speeds, which under LSA rules must be lower than 45 knots in landing configuration. The FAA has recently shown some bureaucratic flexibility here in granting ICON an exemption up to almost 1,600 lbs gross, but only because the company proved its A5 amphib is highly-resistent to spins. The AeroMobil and Transition are far too “dirty” to make that a realistic option for those airframes.

      As for the other issues, AeroMobil would likely qualify for some kind of emissions waiver for low production, or it could buy carbon credits under EU-ETS. The Rotax 912 is also a surprisingly clean engine, and can burn high-octane unleaded autogas.

      Terrafugia kept its first flight tests within ground effect, too, so that’s not necessarily an indication of poor performance (though that company did wind up substantially revising its design afterwards.) I find the apparent lack of control stability in the AeroMobil video to be of most concern.

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