Carplane Emerges in Europe


Another flying car prototype made its debut a couple of weeks ago at the Aero Friedrichshafen show in Germany. Rather than having one cabin, the unusual two-seat, high-wing design has two fuselages arranged side-by-side.

The designers from Braunschweig, Germany, claim the arrangement improves drivability on the ground, allowing the Carplane to drive as well as a compact car with a top speed on the ground of 110 mph. And while the vehicle has only one 151 hp PC850 engine, it drives both the propeller and rear wheels for takeoff, providing a shorter takeoff distance than with the propeller alone. Initial specs estimate that the aircraft will be able to get off the ground in less than 300 feet, climb at 1,150 fpm and fly as fast as 120 knots.

In driving mode, the wings, prop and empennage are folded and stowed between the two hulls where they are not only well protected from damage but also improve the handling characteristics at higher road speeds, the company says. Stowing the wings and empennage in the center also allows the Carplane to be small enough to fit into a standard-sized garage.

While the design made its first appearance this month, the project started in 2008 and the company has been working toward certification for the past three years.

So will the Carplane make it to the market? There is a chance it will. The company received an award for best practices from the European Commission as it has consistently met time and budget targets, something that can't be said for a lot of aviation projects.

But the flying plane may only achieve certification across the pond at least until the FAA Part 23 rewrite is complete. The Carplane will not meet the weight restrictions for LSA and the company is certifying the roadable aircraft in a European Very Light Aircraft category, which has a weight restriction of 1,653 lbs. There is no telling when and if that category may be available in the U.S.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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