First Flying Car Will Not Bring Rideshare to the Skies, Yet

It’s official: The first commercially available flying car has arrived. But the high price point — $399,000, for the most basic option — makes it nearly impossible for the vehicles to ever be used as a ridesharing service.

Dutch car manufacturer PAL-V (Personal Air and Land Vehicle) officially started the sales of its commercial models, the Liberty Pioneer and Liberty Sport, which were first successfully demonstrated as concept vehicles in 2009 and 2012.

Although the PAL-V is envisioned to be used in an organized ride-hailing service at some point in the future, it’s not expected that transportation service will become a reality, simply because of the price, Mark Jennings-Bates, PAL-V’s vice president of sales for North America, told Mobility Buzz.

Something like the PAL-V could be used in a transportation-as-a-service capacity, such as ridesharing, but that will be more in the realm of 10 to 15 years away, Ali Bahrami, vice president for civil aviation at the Aerospace Industries Association, told Mobility Buzz.

“It’s always nice to see companies come up with these ideas because it generates interest and innovation,” Bahrami said. However, it’s not likely these cars will be regularly driven, unless the price point is lowered.

And PAL-V doesn’t anticipate he price lowering anytime soon.

“I don’t see the price coming down much more because of what goes into manufacturing something that is heavy, yet making it light [enough to fly],” Jennings-Bates said.

The flying cars also pose issues of both highway and air safety regulations, but PAL-V has already addressed this by designing with those regulatory requirements in mind, rather than adjusting to them after-the-fact, according to Jennings-Bates.

The PAL-V Liberty Pioneer and Liberty Sport are technically a three-wheeled automotive, meaning that they are considered a motorcycle and do not have to fulfill all the necessary safety standards of a four-wheeled car.

The PAL-V is also considered a gyroplane, which has a stable mechanism system allows for easier and safer flying. And contrary to a fixed-wing airplane, it cannot stall, and crosswind landings are easier and safer than a fixed-wing airplane. Also unlike a helicopter, a gyroplane requires 300 to 650 feet of space to take off and land.

The Federal Aviation Administration previously stated that it is taking a “flexible, open-minded, and risk-based approach” to flying cars. But owners will still need to earn a license to fly the PAL-V. The gyroplane license can usually be obtained within 30 to 40 hours of training, depending on skill and talent, according to the company.

Before today’s announcement, PAL-V began with 25 reservations, which later solidified to about 12, Jennings-Bates said, but that number is expected to go up over the next several days. The company had run, “a quiet campaign so far, it was literally word of mouth,” he said. “But with our announcement today, I am already getting calls from people who want to put their name on the list.”

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