So what exactly is this Flying car that we are talking about? Well, the PAL-V Flying Car, designed by a Dutch engineer named John Bakker, is actually a three-wheeled car (or to some a motorcycle) on the road; however open up its roof and back to find a foldable rotor, propeller and tail section, and you convert it into a helicopter, ready to take off in a few seconds! PAL-V ONE, is the first Personal Air and Land Vehicle (PAL-V) available for anyone's use. It combines the recent "tilting car" technology of the Carver with the safest and easiest principle of flying, the gyrocopter. It has the exclusive rights to all the basic patents covering this magnificent concept.
After 6 years of concept work, PAL-V Europe BV has now entered the next phase. It is starting to build the first commercial prototype, ready to start production and carry out the market launch of the PAL-V ONE by 2012. Since 2004/2005 new European and American regulations allow people to fly the PAL-V with a simple sports aviation license. It takes between 15-25 hours getting a license for flying while driving can be done with a regular car driving license.
Airborne, the PAL-V flies under the 4,000 feet (1,500 m) floor of commercial air space, and can hold one person only. it is highly fuel-efficient and is powered by an environmentally certified car engine. It runs on petrol/gas like a conventional car and can reach speeds of up to 200 km/h both on land and in the air. At less than 70 decibels, it is much quieter than helicopters due to the slower rotating of the main rotor.
In the US the "High-way In The Sky" HITS-program is being developed to allow extensive personal air traffic. In Europe initiatives have been initiated to develop a copy of this system called "Digital freeways", which provide a safe corridor using GPS technology to aid air-regulation and avoid collisions for low flying vehicles.
And now for the most important question: How much does this cost?? Well, there's no price-tag on the PAL-V yet; Commercial prices will be established depending on volume and competition a year before market launch in 2010. but I bet with the growing trends of owning private jets, this coolest innovation will need to be competitive to make it accessible to local public. Check out some more details about safety and working principles on the PAL-V FAQ's page.
I don't know how this will affect the already struggling air-traffic control, but I know there would be many amongst us who would be thrilled to own a flying car, including me! how soon it becomes a reality, only time will tell!