Dutch flying car's first traffic test disappoints and delights

Posted Apr 27, 2009 by Adriana Stuijt
A test-flight to prove the short-take off and landing abilities for the planned new Dutch 'flying car' was held on the A1 highway next to Amersfoort in The Netherlands early on Monday morning.
The Dutch media pack, which had assembled with high expectations, believing they'd now see the prototype of the flying car in action, were deeply disappointed, writes the Dutch Radio 1 Journal interviewer Mattijs van de Wiel. Instead they witnessed a testflight from a field next to the highway to test the short take-off and landing abilities of a gyrocopter. And that test-flight went perfectly: showing that the gyrocopter can take off and land within just a few metres. weblog t=_blank]see
They had somehow also been led to believe by earlier news reports that this would be the first flying car which could be legally used by Dutch civilians -- however Minister Eurlings of the Ministry of Traffic Safety and Water Affairs, also disillusioned them in this regard: it was only ever intended for use by emergency services such as the police and traffic authorities, but not for relieving traffic congestion, he assured them. And, he pointed out, people would still need a driver's license and a flight-license to operate it legally...
Digital Journal indeed was told last week by Robert Dingemans of the Pal-V company that they would not be flying the Pal-V's first prototype but would only fly a (Carver) -model outfitted to test the combination of gyro and the car in traffic conditions.'
Mr Dingemans said on Monday that they were flight-testing a Carver road-vehicle which was outfitted with a gyro-copter to test its short take-off and landing abilities. A temporary 200 meter-landing field was laid down in a wet Dutch field, and this was much more space than the test model needed.
He said the flying car was only made possible after the invention of the Carver three-wheeled 'tilt' motorbike/car concept in 2005. "The idea of a flying car is not to let it fly, but to let it drive,' he said .A helicopter is very noisy and a gyrocopter not only weighs far less but also is much quieter, he also pointed out. And, he said, it was 'surprising and delightful to him that the government has shown so much attention.'
It must fly a minimum of 1,500 metres high to be able to avoid any overhead wires and bridges, and can reach top speeds of 200km an hour. One of the tests carried out today was to see whether a nearby row of trees would be hampering the flight along the national routes.
However, other journalists were far less pessimistic than the radio journalist. See the pictures of the test flight in De Telegraaf newspaper today here
The PAL-V company is building its first prototype with a Dutch government grant and hopes to start producing the flying cars commercially within three years, their spokesman told the news media on Monday.
See our previous article on the promised test-flight here .
65 gyro-pads
PAL-V company, located near Eindhoven, is developing the first Dutch flying car: a tilting car/bike combination road vehicle, patented by Carver, which would be fitted with a small gyro-copter.
The underlying concept would be that the flying car could be driven off a roadway and take off from any off-road parking lot whenever there's a traffic back-log, the company spokesman told the Dutch news media today. Its gyro-copter, which does not require an extra engine and thus is much lighter and quieter than the helicopter blade assembly parts, would be folded across the roof of the Carver, and engaged to lift the short-take off and landing machine from the parking lot.
The plan would be to install 65 small 'gyro-pads' next to all the major Dutch highways where these flying cars, intended for use only by emergency vehicles, could land and take off.
The flying car isn't legal in the Netherlands at the moment, however since the Traffic Safety Ministry is so closely involved with this project, the PAL-V manufacturer does not expect any problems getting the rules for road- and air traffic adjusted to accommodate the new flying car.
In an interview with the 'disillusioned' Radio One-journalist Van de Wiel, the Minister slapped down any notions that it would be allowed for civilian use; he said the flying car was not intended 'to solve the problems with our road congestion'. "It's intended only for use by emergency services as an alternative to the helicopter,' he said.
The journalist writes on his weblog that he 'feels he's been had'.
"It just sounded too good to be true, the presentation of a flying car. A car with rotor-blades on its roof with which you could take off from a pad near a fuel station next to the highway and fly across heavy traffic. 'It will never happen', I was thinking as I was driving to the parking lot next to the A1 highway. That's where the flying car would be making its first flight. I was assured that this really wasn't a folly. No, even the authorities are investing in it, and Minister Eurlings would even fly in it for a bit. ' Let them convince me that this project is going to take off,' I was still thinking... Alas they didn't convince me. Upon arrival at the said site, there was no flying car. Even stronger: it doesn't exist just yet except on the drawing board. They want to refit an existing car on three wheels with gyro-copter wings. However today, there would only be a demonstration with a gyro-copter, a kind of helicopter which flies much more economically and is much quieter. That was already invented in 1895*, so that wasn't really news-worthy either. And what about the Minister? Does he believe in the project? Or wasn't he just wasting his valuable time for nothing? The Minister says in his short speech to the huge assembled press pack that this flying car was not intended to solve the traffic congestion but was meant as an alternative to the helicopter for emergency use. 'Goodbye subject, we have been had. I was right, nothing will ever come of it...' he writes. (*correction: it was invented in 1923..
The manufacturer 's visualised costs of this flying car wouldn't be any higher than for any average luxury car. And people will still need a pilot's license, even if is only intended to fly 1,500 metres above traffic... it remains an aircraft, guided by air-traffic rules.Pictured in the video above is a gyro-copter -- which is the kind of assembly which was fitted to the Carver body for the Dutch test flight. It's short-take off and landing abilities indeed are impressive. Gyrocopters are in widespread use, especially in wide-open country by farmers and ranchers, such as in Australia.
The idea for the Pal-V is to fit it to an adapted version of the three-wheeled Carver-bike and turn it into the flying car.