This article was originally published on April 4, 2012.
The PAL-V is designed to combine the handling of a motorbike with a mechanical-hydraulic dynamic tilting mechanism, automatically adjusting the tilt angle of the vehicle while cornering.
It is powered by a 160kW flight certified gasoline engine and has a top speed of 180 km/h(112mph) both in air and land. To convert from automobile to airplane, the vehicle’s engine must be stopped.
In ground mode the vehicle‘s estimated fuel economy figures of 12 km/l (28 mpg) and a range of 350-500 km (220-315 miles) depending on the model type, payload and wind conditions.
Bio-diesel and bio-ethanol version engines are for production in future that can accelerate the vehicle from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in under eight seconds. Flying a PAL-V is like a standard gyrocopter. It is quieter than helicopters and quadcopters due to the slower rotation of the main rotor.
Measuring 4(L) x 1.6(W) x 1.6(H) m (13.1 x 5.2 x 5.2 ft), the PAL-V weighs 680 kg (1,499 lb) and can carry a maximum load of 230 kg (507 lb) for a maximum gross weight of 910 kg (2,006 lb). The company says the PAL-V complies with existing regulations in all major markets making it legal for both road and air use. Obtaining a license requires only 20 to 30 hours of training.
Before takeoff, the tail is extended and the rotor unfolded in a process that takes less than 10 minutes. Upon starting the engine the foldable push propeller emerges from the rear of the cabin to provide the forward thrust. To go from aircraft to automobile, the process is simply reversed.
When airborne, the PAL-V usually flies below 4,000 feet (1,200 m), the airspace available for uncontrolled Visual Flight Rules (VFR) traffic; so there will be no interference from commercial air traffic. It can take off in many countries without filing a flight plan.
PAL-V’s main rotor has a slower rotation than a helicopter making it quieter and giving it the ability to take off and land at lower speeds. The company says it is also easier to control and cannot stall and even if the engine fails, it can be steered and landed safely as the rotor keeps auto rotating.
The PAL-V ONE has a very short take off and landing capability making it possible to land practically anywhere. Once the engine stops, the propeller folds itself automatically into the driving position. Pushing a button then lowers the rotor mast into the horizontal position.
The military as well as emergency services might be able to find good use for it apart from commercial sales. So far, a handful of successful test flights have been conducted and the Dutch company hopes to rope in investors to take bring the PAL-V past the finish line and roll off factories in due time.