Sometimes, the name says it all.
Germany’s Carplane is the latest entrant into the ongoing, enduringly quixotic competition to build a practical flying car.
The two-seater features a novel design with individual compartments for each passenger split down the middle by an open space where its wings are stored when it’s in automobile mode. According to Aviation Week, its designers say this allows for better aerodynamics and visibility on the road than other wing retraction methods.
On the prototype revealed this week, the wings need to be manually installed and removed, like some gliders, but the company has developed a powered mechanism that can accomplish it at the press of a button that comes with the penalty of extra weight.
As it is now, the Carplane weighs just over 1,000 pounds, has the footprint of a midsize car, and uses a 151 hp two-cylinder piston engine to power the propeller, the rear wheels, or both simultaneously. The last of those should allow it to take off in less than 300 feet. It can land in the same distance, thanks in part to its four wheel design, which employs automobile tires and brakes. Its top speed is projected to be 109 mph as a car, and 138 mph as a plane, with a cruising speed of 125 mph.
The vehicle is still in development, but the company believes it can get it certified as a very light aircraft by 2018, or, if the weight limits are raised to accommodate it as a light sport aircraft, possibly by 2017.
This means it already meets the main qualification of every flying car: fitting into the meme that it’s just two years away.