(NEXSTAR) – AirCar, a relatively new prototype for a flying car, has successfully completed a 35-minute trip between international airports in Slovakia, allegedly turning “science fiction into a reality,” according to its developers.
The hybrid car-aircraft flew between Nitra, in western Slovakia, to the capital of Bratislava early on Monday morning. Upon landing at Bratislava, AirCar inventor Stefan Klein retracted the flying car’s wings and drove it into the downtown area.
“This flight starts a new era of dual transportation vehicles. It opens a new category of transportation and returns the freedom originally attributed to cars back to the individual,” said Klein following the successful flight, according to a press release.
The AirCar Prototype 1, which has been in development since 2017 at Klein’s company KleinVision, is powered by a 160-horsepower BMW engine, and features a fixed propeller. The flying car is capable of 45-degree turns, speeds of 190 kilometers per hour (118 mph) and cruising at altitudes of 8,200 feet, according the KleinVision. There’s also a ballistic parachute included for emergencies.
A future pre-production model, the AirCar Prototype 2, will feature a more powerful engine and a variable-pitch propeller, allowing it to travel at speeds of 300 kilometers per hour (186 mph) over a distance of 621 miles, the company claims.
“AirCar is no longer just a proof of concept… it has turned science fiction into a reality,” said KleinVision co-founder Anton Zajac in a press release.
KleinVision ultimately hopes to test a 4-seat version, as well as a twin-propeller version and an amphibious model.
Professor Stefan Klein, the inventor of the AirCar, had previously worked on the development of several new modes of transportation, including models of electric scooters, golf carts and two “flying cars” under the AeroMobil name, per KleinVision’s website.
AirCar isn’t the only flying car currently under development, with several concepts attempting to take off in recent years, including the Airspeeder and the Hexa, to name a few. Unlike those, however, the AirCar is not a VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) model, but rather requires a runway.
Speaking with the BBC, Zajac added that AirCar will be vying for a percentage of the emerging market for flying taxis, of which there are already “about 40,000 orders of aircraft in the United States alone,” he said.
“And if we convert 5% of those, to change the aircraft for the flying car — we have a huge market,” he said.