Spark and PAL-V Europe NV, however, are on the brink of realising this dream with the PAL-V: an innovative new vehicle that drives like a car and flies like a gyrocopter.
PAL-V means the long-awaited technical and commercial breakthrough for the flying car. As a result of the right technical choices, the vehicle performs just as well on the road as it does in the air and it can be quickly and simply converted from drive- to fly-mode. A driving and flying prototype of the PAL-V has already been developed and tested extensively.
Robert Barnhoorn (Director Spark) and promoter John Bakker have shared the same dream since 1999: to develop a car that can fly. They decided to collaborate and to work together to investigate the feasibility of such a vehicle and to develop a concept. Much has been achieved since then: a consortium of entrepreneurs has embraced the idea and invested in the product. The Ministries of Economic Affairs and of the Infrastructure and Environment are supporting the plan to build short take-off and landing runways alongside motorways in the future; so-called PAL-V ports.
Spark has been busy with the (concept) development of ground-breaking hybrid vehicles for more than 18 years. Examples include an electric amphibious vehicle and the Carver One, a three-wheeler vehicle with the tilting sensation of a motorbike and the comfort and safety of a car. The application of existing knowledge and technology makes the concept of the PAL-V both financially and technically viable. The PAL-V meets the most stringent certification requirements of RDW en ILT (formerly IVW). Because it makes use of the lower atmosphere (under 1200 metres), below the busy commercial flight paths, it can be flown under VFR conditions.
Spark and PAL-V worked very pragmatically to develop a flying car without the major shortcomings of previous concepts. Many of the older designs had to compromise a great deal in terms of good driving qualities in order to be able to fly or vice versa. And, they usually made use of wing attachments or propellers that had to be stored at the airfield, or transported in a trailer. Spark developed the basic concept for PAL-V, the rotor control system, the rotor mast with the righting mechanism. This includes a number of support systems such as the prerotator, the brakes, the trim and the righting cylinder. Spark has also made a significant contribution to the exterior design en has made the visualizations of the exterior.
The Carver was chosen as the basis for driving the PAL-V. It steers like a car and in the corners leans like a motorbike. The slim, lightweight cab, with two seats placed one in front of the other has minimal drag and takes up little room on the road. The rotor folds up and sits on the roof. The patented hydromechanic tilting mechanism - the Dynamic Vehicle Control (DVC) system – from Carver Engineering delivers unprecedented stability on the road.
The renowned autogyro technology was chosen from all the known flight principles. This technology is not too complex, relatively simple to steer, safe and reliable. A foldable propeller shaft behind the vehicle ensures that the forward speed, which drives the main rotor, generates aerodynamic lift. Converting from drive- to flight-mode is fundamentally simple: hydraulically raise the mast that holds the tail section, release the rotor and the PAL-V is ready to take-off. The DVC tilting mechanism compensates for the relatively high centre of gravity, caused by the rotor on the roof and the tail section.
The flying car is ideal for, among other things, professional use by both business people and as an ambulance or police vehicle and for use in areas with minimal transport infrastructure. The vehicle drives as comfortably and economically on the road as a car. You can take off in an instant from any existing airport or airstrip. In this way, people can avoid traffic jams or other obstacles and achieve long distances faster.
Read more here about the history of the flying car.