Friday, April 06, 2012
PAL-V One: Flying trike completes its maiden flight
Based in The Netherlands, PAL-V Europe N.V. was set up more than a decade ago, in 2001, with the objective of creating a ‘roadable aircraft.’ According to the company, an important breakthrough for them came in 2005, when one of their partners – Carver Technology – developed and fine-tuned what they call Dynamic Vehicle Control (DVC) technology. Essentially a balancing mechanism for three-wheeled vehicles, DVC allows vehicles to tilt freely while cornering, which makes for driving/riding dynamics that cannot be matched by conventional cars and motorcycles.
Carver’s DVC tilting technology also helped PAL-V in allowing them to develop a trike that had a high centre of gravity and narrow, aerodynamic shape necessary for flying, yet keeping it safe and enjoyable to ride on the street. And now, the Dutch company is ready with the first fully working prototype of its two-seater flying trike, the PAL-V One, which you can see in action in the video on this page.
On the ground, the PAL-V One can be ridden like a regular tilting trike – you can ride it to the nearest airfield and then just take off from there! When airborne, the PAL-V flies below 4,000 feet (1,200m), the airspace available for uncontrolled Visual Flight Rules (VFR) traffic, which ensures it doesn’t interfere with commercial air traffic. Powered by a robust, flight-certified, 230bhp aircraft engine, the PAL-V One runs on petrol and can hit a top speed of up to 180km/h (112 mph) both on land and in the air.
‘The PAL-V One has a very short take off and landing capability, making it possible to land practically anywhere. When not using controlled airspace, you can take off without filing a flight plan. Flying a PAL-V One is like a standard gyrocopter and is quieter than helicopters due to the slower rotation of the main rotor. It takes off and lands with low speed, cannot stall, and is very easy to control. The gyroplane technology means that it can be steered and landed safely even if the engine fails, because the rotor keeps auto rotating,’ says a press note from the company.
Converting the PAL-V One from flying machine to roadgoing trike is an easy process and takes about 10 minutes. 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 and lowers the tail. The outer blades are folded over the inner blades via hinge mechanisms, after which the tail can be pushed into its driving position and rotor blades can be secured. To convert from driving to flying mode, the sequence simply has to be reversed. According to PAL-V, ‘This conversion can be executed by the rider/pilot after just a short training lesson.’
The PAL-V One weighs 680kg dry, can carry two adults, can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in less than 8 seconds on the ground and can achieve a top speed of 180km/h on ground and in the air. It has a range of 1,200km on ground and 350-500km in the air. To fly one of these things, you’d need a ‘Sports Pilot License’ in the US, a ‘Recreational Pilot License’ in Europe and equivalent pilot licenses in most other countries around the world. According to PAL-V, learning to fly the One takes 20 to 40 hours of lessons.
We think the PAL-V One is an amazing machine. Depending on the financial backing they’re able to secure, PAL-V might be able to start commercial production of the One within the next year or two. We just hope we can get to ride/fly this machine someday!
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