The Carplane bimodal Convergence Vehicle

Carplane challenges hybrid compromise dillemma

A new contender in the nascent flying car (or 'roadable aircraft') sector has made its maiden trade outing at Hannover Messe 2011.

The Carplane bimodal Convergence Vehicle is designed to be a light sport aircraft (LSA) class flyer capable also of motorway-speed driving, that is aiming to be on the market within four years.

Developed by Carplane GmbH in Lower Saxony, Carplane will initially be offered in kit form, and is designed to conform with the emerging European Light Aircraft (ELA) standard. The company is also seeking partnerships that could lead to the Carplane being produced on a hand-built/pre-assembled basis for the so-called 'rich man's toy' (RMT) market.

Carplane will require dual licensing, Carplane project manager John  Brown told E&T: “It will be licensed for road use as a conventional car is, and get number plates fore and aft,and like any light aircraft it will also be licensed by the [relevant] aviation authority, and get letters/numbers painted on the side. We don't think that there will be a combined 'flying car' registration for 30 years.”

Brown says that Carplane's major USP over other flying car contenders is the way in which its flight wings fold and stow as a single element between the vehicle's twin hulls, thereby offering better slipstream contouring when the vehicle is being road-driven - giving it an advantage over other such designs, such as Terrafugia's. “As well as shielding the wings from generating slipstream drag when driving, they also generate downforce that helps Carplane reach motorway speeds,” Brown explains, “but with a maximum road speed of 176kmph.”

The first Carplane customers will need around €200,000 to join the new fly-drive generation; but Brown believes that prices could drop to half of that if the vehicle enters volume production. A computer-generated video of Carplane is viewable from its website at the URL below.

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