Klein Vision sells flying car tech to China

The company is licening its tech to Hebei Jianxin Flying Car Technology Company in China. But it brings us no closer to flying car travel in Europe.
Klein Vision sells flying car tech to China

Klein Vision's dream of a shape-shifting vehicle that goes from a road car to flying in the sky in minutes with only the need for a short landing strip is one step closer. The company is licencing its tech to Hebei Jianxin Flying Car Technology Company in China. While the financial details are undisclosed, the prototype cost $2.3 million to develop.

The deal gives the Chinese firm exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute the AirCar within a specific geographic region in China. The AirCar has retractable wings, folding tail surfaces, and a parachute deployment system. It takes two minutes and 15 seconds to turn from sports car mode into an aircraft.

It is equipped with a 160HP BMW engine and runs on standard fuel. It runs on standard fuel—no electric battery or green hydrogen—with a fixed propeller and a ballistic parachute. It's the first news from Klein Vision in over two years.

In January 2022, the company announced that their AirCar flying car had received a Certificate of Airworthiness from the Slovak Transport Authority, making it legal to fly. It has a cruise speed of 300km/h and a 1000 km range.

The news followed 142 successful landings in Bratislava. Under the supervision of the Civil Aviation Authority, the AirCar completed over 40 hours of test flights, including steep 45-degree turns and stability and manoeuvrability testing. 

In earlier tests, the AirCar has flown at 8200 ft and reached a maximum speed of 190 kmph (103 knots). The two-seater flying car needs only a 300m stretch to take off.

The company also announced plans for a 4-seater version, twin-engine and amphibious plane — a plane that turns into a boat. Or is it a car that turns into a boat and a car? 

Since then… nothing. 

Where can I travel in a flying car in Europe?

Unfortunately, I'm here to burst your bubble. Currently, no facilities have been developed for private flying cars in Europe (or the US). There are private airstrips, but these would need regulatory approval to host flying cars. Then, there's the challenge of being approved to fly your air car. 

Flying car owners like AirCar need aviation and car driving licences. They also need a medical checkup from a flight examiner and a repair licence. To date, no insurance policy exists for personal flying cars.

In Europe, the operator needs specific flight permission in every national jurisdiction since experimental aircraft are regulated nationally (NOT by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency). 

Klein Vision's AirCar only has a Certificate of Airworthiness from the Slovak Transport Authority. This means that once (if?) available commercially, you can only fly it in Slovakia. 

However, Pal V from the Netherlands is further along, receiving road emission for its PAL-V Liberty in October 2020 for Europe and numerous countries outside Europe.

It was also the first to complete the full certification with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). However, news of operations in Europe is limited — Pal V has been selling aircars to the Middle East.

Image: Aeromobil.

News from Slovakian competitor Aeromobi has been far thinner on the ground — Klein Vision's founder Stefan Klein's previous employer. As with almost all mobility companies, I expect all flying car makers were hit hard by the pamdemic. 

The dream of a personal flying car remains grounded in bureaucracy and infrastructure limitations. As it stands, it offers little environmental benefit. It's highly questionable whether they'll ever be available outside the hands of the wealthy few.

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