SkyAngels Air Ambulance, an emergency medical flight service provider based in the UK, has partnered with Dutch “flying car” manufacturer PAL-V International to explore uses for its fly-and-drive vehicle in emergency response operations.
PAL-V—short for “personal air and land vehicle”—has been developing its flying car, the PAL-V Liberty, since 2008, and it has already been approved for road use in Europe. Now the company is working with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on airworthiness approval and is seeking type certification under special conditions for the CS-27 rules EASA published in 2021, which cover gyroplanes with a maximum takeoff weight of up to 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds). The company has said it expects to achieve type certification in the third quarter of 2023 and to begin delivering the vehicle to customers by the end of the year.
The PAL-V Liberty is a two-seat flying car with foldable propellers that can be stowed inside the vehicle when it’s operating on the road. When it’s time to fly, a large, helicopter-style rotor unfurls overhead while a smaller pusher propeller extends from the rear to provide forward propulsion. The transition between driving and flying modes takes about six minutes, according to PAL-V. To take off, the PAL-V Liberty needs between 70 and 200 meters (230 to 656 feet), depending on headwinds. It requires only 50 meters (164 feet) for a landing strip.
“Range, payload, and practicality are key factors when considering a flying car for our air ambulance service,” said SkyAngels CEO David Polo Marks. “The fact that the aircraft can drive on roads means that it is not restricted by weather conditions, and because it’s a car that can fly and doesn’t need roads, it's an ideal solution for our emergency response needs, especially in areas where ground infrastructure is limited.”
SkyAngels Air Ambulance, a charity service that offers critical care transfers and medical repatriation for patients, says it plans to operate the PAL-V Liberty as a fast-response vehicle to quickly and efficiently transport doctors and paramedics in emergency situations. However, the vehicle will not be used as an air ambulance, as it is not equipped to transport passengers. Emergency responders can use the PAL-V Liberty to fly over traffic jams as well as natural obstacles like bodies of water.
“SkyAngels Air Ambulance has a unique use case for the Liberty, which also helps us to develop the business and governmental markets,” said PAL-V CEO Robert Dingemanse. “Besides emergency response, it is also a tool which can be used for coast guarding, border patrol, policing, and many more applications."