Advanced air mobility (AAM) innovator PAL-V International has opened a base in the UK dedicated to selling and promoting its Liberty “flying car.” The facility at London Oxford Airport—around 100 km (62 miles) northwest of the UK capital—will also house a simulator for the two-seat gyroplane to enable prospective customers to familiarize themselves with the vehicle. An example of the vehicle will be displayed at the site between September 20 and 22.
The Liberty, which is already approved for road use but still has to earn EASA airworthiness approval, is expected to be able to transition from ground to flight mode in under six minutes using rotors stowed into the vehicle. The company says it can take off in between 70 and 200 meters (up to 656 feet), depending on headwinds. It can land almost vertically, with a need for just 50 meters (164 feet) of tarmac.
In its road configuration, the piston-twin vehicle boasts a top speed of 160 km/h (99 mph) and a range of 1,315 km (822 miles). In flight mode, the Liberty should be able to reach speeds of 180 km/h (113 mph) and fly up to 500 km (313 miles) with fuel reserves.
Launched in 2007, PAL-V (which stands for Personal Air and Land Vehicle) is seeking type certification under special conditions for the existing CS-27 rules that EASA published last year. These cover gyroplanes with a maximum takeoff weight not exceeding 1,000 kg (2,200 pounds).
“Working closely with EASA, PAL-V has been extracting data analysis, flight and drive tests, and test data,” PAL-V said in a press release. The Dutch company added that compliance demonstrations began recently, and it now hopes to secure certification for the Rotax 912iS-powered Liberty under EASA’s CS-27 regulations in the third quarter of 2023, having earlier targeted the end of 2022. Customer deliveries are scheduled to follow at the end of next year.
The new PAL-V sales center in Oxford is being run by Andy Wall, a fixed-wing and helicopter private pilot who previously worked in the automotive industry. PAL-V founder Robert Dingemanse has assembled a team with experience with luxury carmakers such as Bentley, Ferrari, and Porsche, as well as from aviation companies such as Fokker Aircraft and GKN.
Initial production models of the Liberty will be sold to customers in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK before availability is extended to the rest of Europe, North America, and then into the Middle East and Asia, said PAL-V. Interest in the vehicle is “evenly split,” the company said, among commercial, defense, and private users.
According to PAL-V, customers who reserve deliveries of the flying car now can start flight training under existing sports gyroplane rules to build experience for the eventual EASA type-specific license that will be issued. The Dutch government has reserved one of the vehicles for its own use. There have also been discussions about possible air taxi applications, and the World Health Organization has shown interest in medical support operations.
The PAL-V website shows prices starting with the basic Liberty Sports edition at €299,00 ($304,000), rising to €499,000 ($507,000) for the higher-specification Liberty Pioneer version. The company is offering “options to purchase” agreements for these vehicles, at respective rates of €10,000 and €25,000.
PAL-V International is taking a different approach to the emerging personal air vehicle market by seeking certification under variants of existing gyroplane rules. Several other companies—including SkyDrive in Japan, Xpeng and Terrafugia in China, and Doroni, NFT, and Air One in the U.S.—are also developing personal eVTOL models.