We’ve been promised flying cars for decades now, yet our four-wheeled vehicles are still stuck in the ground. But a Slovakian company is hoping to change all of that very soon. Klein Vision’s “AirCar” was recently issued a Certificate of Airworthiness by the Slovak Transport Authority—meaning it has the official OK to fly around in its home country.
“AirCar certification opens the door for mass production of very efficient flying cars,” Stefan Klein, the inventor and head of the AirCar development team, as well as the vehicle’s test pilot, said in a press release. “It is official and the final confirmation of our ability to change mid-distance travel forever.”
Mid-range flying vehicles have been in development for decades now, mostly in the form of eVTOLs (short for electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing). While the technology has mostly been restricted to military R&D, many companies as of late have been trying to develop commercial versions of eVTOLS that can act as air taxis, ferrying people dozens or even hundreds of miles in distance on a single charge.
But the AirCar is much closer to the flying car that sci-fi writers have long imagined. In development since 2017, it’s a chimeric hybrid between car and plane. Literally—the front looks like a slim coupe, while the back has retractable tails and looks like the rear end of a small two-person plane. It’s able to drive around on the road on four wheels like a standard vehicle, but unfolds its wings and jets off into the air using a propeller in the back.
According to Klein Vision, the AirCar is capable of flying 600 miles in a single journey, with a cruising speed of 186 mph and a maximum altitude of 18,000 feet. It runs on an internal combustion engine, which means it can be fueled at any ordinary gas pump. (Not exactly a win for the environment, however.)
The company is at work developing and testing other versions of the AirCar (including a four-seater, and an amphibious version that can surf on the water like a boat). But right now it’s just the two-seat version that’s approved for flight, following its first inter-city flight last June.
Klein Vision hopes to have an upgraded model approved for flight and ready for commercial production in about a year. If all things go well, it might soon be commonplace for Slovakians to look up at the sky and see an AirCar zipping around.