We’re big fans of the AeroMobil Flying Car. So it’s with disappointment that we report that it crashed recently during a test flight. The pilot, a company co-founder, deployed a whole-aircraft parachute and wasn’t hurt.
Here’s what we know about what happened. The plane/car’s inventor, Stefan Klein was piloting the 3.0 prototype in Slovakia last week when he encountered an “unexpected situation.” In a company statement, AeroMobil says Klein deployed a whole-aircraft parachute at around 900 feet, which slowed the plane’s decent. It most likely saved Klein’s life, but the vehicle didn’t fare so well itself. You can see a photo of it on Paleofuture.
Popular Science reports that the plane may have stalled out and gone into a tailspin forcing Klein to take emergency action. If it indeed stalled, that means the airspeed may have dropped too low for the prototype to continue flying. Alternatively, the company could have done it on purpose while conducting stall testing. AeroMobil says it plans to use everything it learns from the incident in ongoing R&D.
“In the process of developing new vehicles, especially in the prototype phase, the possibility and likelihood of an unexpected situation is a natural part of the testing program. This is a learning period which allows us to detect and subsequently refine our design. It is necessary to test the prototype in every way possible to establish its limits and to improve on them. The flight recording details will help us learn from the data and improve the performance of the vehicle prior to our next flight test,” says the company.
The AeroMobil can take off from and land on any flat grass field. It features power-folding wings that stow behind the passenger compartment when they’re not in use. The company says it can fit into any standard parking space, uses regular gasoline, and can be used in road traffic just like any other car. When driving, it boasts a range of 545 miles and a top speed of 99 mph. When up in the air, it can reach 124 mph, with a range of 435 miles.
CEO Juraj Vaculik recently talked about the unique engineering challenge behind building a flying car at South by Southwest. It’s built using advanced composite materials for the body shell, wings, and wheels. The prototype also contains all the main features that will be incorporated into the final product, such as avionics equipment, autopilot and an advanced parachute deployment system.
Vaculik says the company wants them on the market by 2017, but that timeline may be a tall order at this point. It would be priced at several hundred thousand dollars.
You can watch a successful March test flight below.