back to article Mildly successful flying car crashes - in mildly successful test flight

Slovakian company AeroMobil, which claims to have spotted a gap in the market for flying cars, managed to take its experimental prototype to an altitude of 300 metres before test pilot and inventor, Stefan Klein, "encountered an unexpected situation" and opened the vehicle's parachute. The test flight for the AeroMobil 3.0 …

  1. Ole Juul

    an unexpected situation

    I hate it when that happens.

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: an unexpected situation

      Yup, this bit interested me "the machine has been certified by the Federation of Ultra-Light Flying, nested under the Slovak Civil Aviation Authority." -- along with many mentions of 'test flight'.

      Still undergoing test flights and already certified? Certified as what - potential brick?

      1. Vulch
        Black Helicopters

        Re: an unexpected situation

        Still undergoing test flights and already certified? Certified as what

        Certified as a flying test prototype. Without certification you don't get off the ground.

        1. kellerr13

          Re: an unexpected situation

          If the Wright brothers did things that way, we would STILL be waiting for aircraft.

      2. ratfox Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: an unexpected situation

        I assume the Aviation Authority must certify the machine before it is even allowed to execute test flights?

        I'd certainly hate it if people were allowed to test their prototypes over my head without undergoing some kind of vetting process.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: an unexpected situation

      ... should always be expected.

  2. Graham Marsden
    Happy

    As the old pilots used to say...

    ... any landing you can walk away from is a good one!

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: As the old pilots used to say...

      @Graham Marsden

      Harrison Ford can attest to this!

    2. WraithCadmus

      Re: As the old pilots used to say...

      I've also heard it as:

      "A good landing is one you can walk away from. A great landing is one where you can use the plane again."

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: As the old pilots used to say...

        I'm still trying to classify my paraglider crash unexpected diversion from controlled flight eight years ago: it took me a month before I could walk again (and three more before I could walk well) and yet the aircraft was undamaged...

        1. imanidiot Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: As the old pilots used to say...

          That's not a landing, thats Lithobraking.

          I usually put it as "a great landing is when you can ALSO use the plane again". So you would have to statisfy both criteria of being able to walk away and being able to use the plane again. I would also argue a paraglider is not a plane.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: As the old pilots used to say...

            > I usually put it as "a great landing is when you can ALSO use the plane again

            Nah, the pilot can be replaced.

            I should know. I'm a pilot. :-(

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    It may not sound very clever. But...

    S**t happened and everyone walked away alive

    This demonstrates resilience.

    And if you're planning to open up the number of people who can fly this then that's an under appreciated thing to have IMHO.

    Hopefully they will get better at building these things so it's not needed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It may not sound very clever. But...

      Not a huge problem if he was testing over an unpopulated area. Flying cars parachuting out of the sky over central London may not be so welcomed...... even if it's rare.....

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: It may not sound very clever. But...

        Why? The traffic is likely to be moving at a walking pace and able to stop in time to avoid it.

        ... that and it could hitch a ride on a double decker to get back for repairs.

        1. Mayhem

          Re: It may not sound very clever. But...

          Not to mention that it is still a car - so long as it doesn't actually get stuck on a building, it can be towed or driven away quickly.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It may not sound very clever. But...

          "Why? The traffic is likely to be moving at a walking pace ..."

          Not sure how many roofs are strong enough to handle a hard landing from something as heavy as a car.

  4. silent_count

    The thing is

    One of the factors underlying the popularity of SUVs is that they don't require the prospective owner to have a truck driver's licence*. If they did, you'd be lucky to see any SUVs outside a rural setting.

    With no disrespect intended to truck drivers, a pilot's licence is another order of magnitude harder to get. So while I appreciate AeroMobil's ingenuity, I don't know who they hope to sell their "car" to.

    * I think they should but that's another argument for another day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The thing is

      > One of the factors underlying the popularity of SUVs is that they don't require the prospective owner to have a truck driver's licence

      ??? Do you have a source for this assertion? I fail to see any common use cases for trucks (motor vehicles >3.5 t) and SUVs. On the contrary, I thought the popularity was related to perceived safety advantages for the occupants, thus playing the emotional card with parents. I take it by SUV you mean faux off-road vehicles. In other words, anything not a Land Cruiser, Unimog, or Defender.

      > With no disrespect intended to truck drivers, a pilot's licence is another order of magnitude harder to get.

      In order to fly the vehicle shown in this article, what you need is a microlight licence, the difficulty of obtaining which is perfectly comparable to European class C licences (and below C+E). And microlights are much easier to operate.

      I have full heavy licences (including PCV) and experience with lorries and coaches and I'm a former commercial pilot who also flies recreationally (including microlights), so that's what I base my comparison on.

      1. silent_count

        Re: The thing is

        "Do you have a source for this assertion?"

        No. In the mid-90s I used to work on a road where there was (still is) a string of car yards and that's what I used to hear from the car salesmen. The SUV (throw a hat over any 4-8 seater passenger vehicle larger than a sedan) are perceived as safer, but would Joe Public go through the extra effort of getting a truck license to drive (for example) a Range Rover when he could buy a sedan an drive it on a regular car license instead? It'd also mean the wife/older children couldn't drive it without extra driving training. So, for most families, the requirement to get a truck licence to drive a SUV would result in a sedan or, if the extra seats were needed, a minvan.

        I could stand to be corrected with regards to the pilot's licence. My understanding is that even a recreational pilot's licence (single engine aircraft and a max of 1 passenger) requires a heap of supervised training, clearance from 3 different levels of instructors and requires the would-be pilot to have regular medical checks.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The thing is

          > My understanding is that even a recreational pilot's licence

          I've just come to realise you're probably not writing from a European context (unlike me).

          For the record: there is no such thing as a "recreational pilot licence" in Europe. We have (and things are a bit dynamic these days on the flight crew licencing front) private, commercial, and airline transport pilot licences (PPL, CPL, ATPL) regulated at the EU level, plus a bunch of things like microlight, glider, paraglider, and in some cases even skydiver licences regulated at the national level.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The thing is

      > I don't know who they hope to sell their "car" to.

      I can't answer for them, obviously, but if the price is comparable to that of a new microlight / LSA, then I can definitely see a market for it. It would be essentially a microlight that can take you all the way to the hotel (and which you could hangar at your place if your garage is big enough).

    3. Vector

      Re: The thing is

      As I've said before, this thing is not a flying car. It's a drivable airplane.

      In my mind, in order to qualify as a flying car it would have to:

      A) be authorized to take off and land almost any place an automobile can be driven (there are exceptions: one probably wouldn't want to take off or land in a tunnel, for example).

      B) be safely operable with the same qualifications currently required to obtain a driver's license.

  5. Aqua Marina

    Would it be possible to fit this one or more of this ballistic parachute system into say a 747? Or does the sheer size of it render it impossible?

    1. Holtsmark
      Boffin

      Re: 747

      The short answers: "Yes", and "Yes, if you want to continue carrying passengers".

      One thing is the weight of the aircraft that needs to be brought down in one piece.

      Another factor is the speed at which the aircraft is flying when the chute must be deployed (remember E = m x V^2)

      Finally, small aircraft tend to have structural "hardpoints" strong enough to not tear out during chute deployment. A 747 is so heavily optimized, that it is hard to imagine a chute installation that did not result in massive strengthening of the airframe.

      Oh.. and IAAAE

    2. Shaun 2

      Combined with some explosive blots to rid the weight of the wings/engine/luggage, then maybe?

      1. Red Bren
        Mushroom

        @Shaun 2

        "Combined with some explosive blots to rid the weight of the wings/engine/luggage, then maybe?"

        Who would be in charge of jettisoning the wings/engines/luggage? The pilot and copilot may agree that the aircraft is doomed and press the emergency button, but what about the orphanage/kitten sanctuary/financial services hub* in the path of the flaming debris? Will the button refuse to operate over populated areas? A doomed pilot may still have enough control to heroically ditch the aircraft where it will minimize ground casualties, but given an escape route, may decide to save themselves! (Apologies, I'm doing pilots an incredible dis-service to make my point)

        * People have different priorities for completing "Won't someone think of the...?"

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Happy

        I would think-

        that such an ' unexpected diversion from controlled flight' would cause spontaneous 'explosive blots' in the passenger cabin...

    3. Alan Edwards

      "Would it be possible to fit this one or more of this ballistic parachute system into say a 747?"

      One of the engines on a 747 weighs more than that entire car/plane thingy. You could probably do it, but there wouldn't be much room for passengers afterwards.

      I wonder if you could use these as escape pods for a 747? Strap a load of them under the fuselage, ram the people in and drop 'em, and hope the smoking remains of your airliner doesn't land on you afterwards.

    4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      I suspect the only way to do it is to replace all the fuel with parachute. Two problems: a 747 weighs around four hundred tonnes, and it's moving at maybe six hundred knots. The deceleration alone from a chute would probably break the plane in half, and if it did stay intact you want to get the impact speed under five metres a second or so, a mahoosive chute.

      1. Vic

        The deceleration alone from a chute would probably break the plane in half

        You don't do the deceleration with a single parachute...

        This is how an ejector seat works - it initially fires a drogue chute, which holds the line taught and provides a tiny amount of drag. There is a pressure-sensitive device called a barostat, which fires only once the pressure is above a certain level - if the pressure is lower than that, either the seat is too high (making a main deployment hazardous) or is moving too fast. Once the pressure has dropped and a small delay form primary firing has occurred, the barostat opens (amongst other things) the pincer that holds the drogue shackle - allowing the drogue to pull the main chute release.

        Vic.

        [ Who has spent some time trying to refurbish an ejector seat ]

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Limits

      Guess it depends on your limits... To me it looks "seemingly limited" to a write off (but what do I know?).

      Maybe Czechs have a different idea about "limited".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Limits

        > Maybe Czechs have a different idea about "limited".

        Indeed. Sounds like an uncharacteristically optimistic assessment, coming from a Czech.

  7. TeeCee Gold badge
    WTF?

    " seemingly limited damage"

    Hmm, that doesn't look very limited.

    In fact if you took a Lotus Elise and drove it up the arse of a Cessna at about 60mph, the results would probably look a lot like that.

  8. Little Mouse
    Boffin

    Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines.

    I can see the problem from here:

    They've only gone and attached the propellor to the wrong end, just like Tony Hancock did.

  9. EssEll

    I love the irony...

    ...that a flying car failing to fly is filed under "Cloud"....

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I love the irony...

        Certain number of "cloud" hits will send certain shares up one presumes. To which, the hand feeding and all that.

  10. Valerion

    Roads?

    Where we're going we don't need roads...

    Nice soft fields to crash into though? Yeah, we need those.

  11. Grease Monkey

    "Slovakian media managed to photograph the seemingly limited damage."

    I'm sure that the company can rebuild the vehicle given that it is a prototype, but if that was a customer's production vehicle in ordinary use it would be a write off. Since when did a total write off classify as "seemingly limited damage"?

    One of the biggest problems with the whole idea of flying cars is what will happen to them after impacts on the road, even at parking speed. Anybody who flies light aircraft will tell you that you're not going to take off in a craft with any visible external damage. How do you fancy your flying car being grounded for very expensive investigative and repair work every time some idiot bumps it? You can't just pop the panel out and hope for the best after somebody biffs it at the pertrol pump.

    But the attraction of flying cars is limited in reality anyway. You're still going to need an airstrip to take off and land. The authorities aren't going to let you do that on the road you know. As a friend of mine says. The nearest airstrip to his house is about half an hour's drive away. OTOH he can land his R44 behind his house and right across the road from his office. When he can't land near his destination he gets a taxi. That, he reckons, is much faster and more convenient than driving to somewhere he's allowed to take off and then converting the car into a plane.

    1. Brandon 2

      limited market

      I agree. If you can afford an airplane, you can likely afford the rental, taxi ride, or limo for the jaunt to work, home, etc. Aside from the cool appearance and "status" of having your plane in your garage, I don't really understand the appeal. I'd rather have a Cessna 172.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: limited market

        > I agree.

        You're not a pilot.

        > If you can afford an airplane, you can likely afford the rental, taxi ride, or limo for the jaunt to work, home, etc.

        And you don't know any recreational pilots.

        We're talking about people who pay anywhere between £100-£300 for flying hour, but are too cheap to buy the latest charts for ten quid. Let alone pay for a taxi or, God forbid, buy a round.

    2. John Bailey

      "I'm sure that the company can rebuild the vehicle given that it is a prototype, but if that was a customer's production vehicle in ordinary use it would be a write off. Since when did a total write off classify as "seemingly limited damage"?"

      Make your mind up.

      If it's a write off, then it can not be repaired. If it can be repaired, it is not a write off. Pick one.

      "One of the biggest problems with the whole idea of flying cars is what will happen to them after impacts on the road, even at parking speed. Anybody who flies light aircraft will tell you that you're not going to take off in a craft with any visible external damage. How do you fancy your flying car being grounded for very expensive investigative and repair work every time some idiot bumps it? You can't just pop the panel out and hope for the best after somebody biffs it at the pertrol pump."

      Really?

      I would have thought the fact that if you run out of petrol, you can't really push it to the nearest filling station would be a wee bit more of a problem.

      But not being able to fly a damaged plane..

      Why is that a problem? Seems a sensible safety measure.

      Plane with visible or invisible damage must be deemed airworthy by a qualified person.

      If a goose crashed into the wing, and bent a control rod, would the plane be airworthy?

      Why should a bump from a car be any different if it happens at ground level or in the air?

      Because when someone e wishes to fly in it, it stops being a car, and becomes a plane.

      "But the attraction of flying cars is limited in reality anyway."

      As is the attraction of hovercraft, boats, submarines, dune buggies, formula one racing cars, rally cars, off road vehicles, and stamp collecting.

      "You're still going to need an airstrip to take off and land. The authorities aren't going to let you do that on the road you know."

      I think pretty much everybody knows that.

      "As a friend of mine says. The nearest airstrip to his house is about half an hour's drive away. OTOH he can land his R44 behind his house and right across the road from his office. When he can't land near his destination he gets a taxi. That, he reckons, is much faster and more convenient than driving to somewhere he's allowed to take off and then converting the car into a plane."

      Yes.

      Question.. Which has the longer range.

      Will the R44 make it from London to Paris, for a romantic dinner with the other half, or the mistress, or the secretary or who ever?

      Because lets face it. If one can afford a flying car, one is not going to drive to the nearest Nandos.

      Because the thing is..

      This is NOT A PRACTICAL PURCHASE.

      There is no business case to put forward. There is no rational reason to have one.

      This is in aviation terms.. A jet ski.

      But the thing that will clinch it for an unknown number of people is that it is FUN!!

      This is a rich mans toy. Not a practical mode of transport. So trying to justify it like that is a waste of time.

      A Yacht will not get me from England to Spain to pick up a case of Paprika for next week's dinner party quickly and cheaply. But it will get me there in an enjoyable way. And I can pick up a case of wine, and some tapas while I'm at it.

      Renting a narrow boat will not get me from A to B as fast as a car, but I can enjoy the scenery as I go, and have a nice holiday.

      It isn't always about practicality. Or ostentation.

      Sometimes.. it's just fun.

      Mine's the one with room for a third nipple.

    3. hplasm Silver badge
      Boffin

      "Since when did a total write off classify as "seemingly limited damage"?"

      No Crater.

  12. lampbus

    They also have failed to correctly install the gas springs that support the cockpit cover.

    http://www.industrialgassprings.com/uk/calculate_basics.asp

    They could use the fully damped type, but they are significantly heavier for the same amount of push.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Evidently...

    ...they found the limits pretty easily. I'd suggest complete replacement, not repair of that airframe.

  14. Nolveys Silver badge

    Planes, Planes, Planes!

    Planes for everybody, even the children! And a concrete bunker for me.

  15. gregthecanuck
    Black Helicopters

    New verb

    "Kersmunch"

    Definition: To crash land with smashing, crunching force.

    Usage: Although touted as a minor technical foible, on-the-scene footage reveals a kersmunching event experience for the pilot.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    NOTE: Flight data recorder footage deemed too inflammatory for public disclosure :)

  16. Dom 3

    "Czech company AeroMobil"

    Rilly? HQ is in Bratislava, key people are Slovaks, etc., etc..

  17. SImon Hobson Silver badge
    Joke

    IT angle - they've been taking english lessons from UK ISPs and using a different definition of "limited" to the rest of us

  18. kellerr13

    It's a plane

    It's not a flying car, it's a small plane.

    Anything that has wings is not a flying car. I expect a flying car to fly by some sort of thrust. It should be roughly the same size in the air as it is on the highway.

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