Towards a No-Compromise Flying 500 MPH Supercar

The Firenze Lanciare is 1000 horsepower supercar on the ground and will have jet engines to become a 500 mph flying car.

Getting the first prototype will require US$20-40 million in funding. Each flying supercar will cost around 5-7 million. A basic corporate jet is $2 to 3 million. Getting certified for mass production would cost $2 billion. The initial plan is to get about ten buyers and each would own a working unit.

Most corporate jet flights are for less than 300 miles and only have 1 passenger. For regional intercity travel, the Firenze uses up to 5X less fuel than a typical corporate jet while offering far greater door-to-door speed, convenience, and flexibility.

Approximately 40% of corporate jet flights are empty as crews ferry the aircraft to pick up clients and deadhead aircraft to maintenance facilities. The Firenze eliminates this fuel burn because it can drive using the battery rather than fly deadhead legs.

EVTOLs (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicles will replace helicopters for short-range metro helipad to helipad travel over the next 10 to 15 years. However, battery improvements will likely mean a passenger-carrying eVTOL will not be capable of intercity travel for at least 20 years.

This flying supercar will use two FJ33 jet engines with a total thrust of 4000 pounds.

Max range with IFR reserves: 750 nm/850 miles/1500 km

Airshow Profile: Sustained +5 G and momentary -2.5 G with rapid roll rates up to 360 degrees and max Q airspeed of 450 KIAS.

Short field approach speed of 110-120 KIAS at 7-8 degrees AOA, no flare landing, max deploy wing spoilers with max auto braking.

SOURCES- Firenze Lanciare
Written By Brian Wang,

49 thoughts on “Towards a No-Compromise Flying 500 MPH Supercar”

  1. I wasn't advocating a swappable car-plane with a cabin-on-top. Instead, a car that'd be attached to a flying wing underneath. No real standardization except for the winch-and-strap method of affixing the car to the wing's car-pad. Just like the platform-style vehicle tow trucks. 

    For aerodynamic efficiency (and … range … safety … noise abatement … idiot passengers doing dumb things … impact resistance from birds … and so on), the car would be enshrouded in a canopy.  Mostly metal, some triple wall plexiglass, enclosed.  

    That way, most-any car would 'work'. Already extant cars. Even small pickup trucks. No limousines. At least not at first.  

    The cars + passengers would be charged by their 'shipping dock' weight. A little complicated, the formula, but it'd work. 

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  2. GoatGuy, the modular car/plane you're describing is certainly more efficient and practical. You have a cabin that includes your passengers and your luggage, but then you swap out all the car stuff for aircraft stuff, and back again when you get to Paris (or wherever).

    The problem here is that you need to invent these "skateboard" cars. Other than for your scenario there isn't a lot of demand. People who aren't married to their car will simply use Uber, get a rental, or have a self-driving vehicle show up as they need it (plans already underway for this). There's no skateboard in the equation.

    And then the inevitable happens. Some rich guy is flying in his skateboard plane and the cabin detaches from the skateboard. He has a few seconds to call someone and scream, "My wings just fell off the plane!"

    Nobody would ever want to use such a system again.

  3. What you're saying is the future might be The Boring Company and not flying cars. As tunnels become cheaper, this makes the cost/benefit for flying cars worse.

  4. I'm guessing you were driving big rigs? Possibly tankers?

    "Many auto policies stop at a maximum of $300,000 or $500,000 per accident for Liability coverage."

    The vast majority of drivers will have quite a bit less, and the require minimums are much lower. Also, there seem to be more and more uninsured motorists out there all the time.

    Plus, of course, with a 7 million dollar luxury status symbol, it is going to be really annoying to find out that the guy parked next to you dinged your door.

  5. Its what you can call the Swiss Army Knife argument. Sure it has lots of cool stuff, but its terrible at them all when compared with a tool that is purpose built.

  6. I've had several different insurance policies over my driving career and the smallest one was $10M for third party property damage.
    Not because I went for the big numbers. This was the standard policy for everyone.

  7. Oh yes. The math shows your lower limit. It's perfectly possible to be much, much louder than that.
    And yes, the typical drone has a smaller prop area than they could have, and as a result has a higher air velocity, and hence noise. Plus the prop itself makes noise just spinning.

    The old helicopter design is, in a lot of ways, a more efficient way to arrange matters with as big a prop area as possible. But the sound of the passing of each blade produces that wop-wop-wop noise/

  8. Something I'm a bit surprised no one seems to have tried is a hybrid of a ducted fan 'drone' flying car design with an autogyro design for cruising. VTOL but lower energy consumption and a substantially larger safety factor.

    I suppose you could just do a helicopter that shifts to autogyro, but my impression is that a drone design would be safer for vertical take off and landing.

  9. "Getting the first prototype will require US$20-40 million in funding"
    In other words investors, Makes me think of "a fool and his money……"

  10. I think a real show stopper might be car insurance.

    You are driving it as a car and some drunken high school kid runs a stop sign and totals your car. They total your seven million dollar car.

    Their car insurance won't cover more than a tiny bit of that and they don't have aviation insurance.

    There are several reasons why airports severely limit the number of people that are allowed to drive on active runways. The incredible cost of an accident is one of them.

  11. Just one more note to add to Dr. Pat's excellent brief summary: noise isn't just an annoying problem, it incurs a triple-whammy of other problems.  

    [1] parasitic power loss
    [2] flight control instability
    [3] structural integrity 'abrasion' over long term

    № 1 — creating of sound takes power. Any power taken to create the noise subtracts from the power available for lifting. At the power levels of an unducted turbofan aircraft, the prop wash also HEATs the air… additionally wasting power. 

    № 2 — comes from the unbalanced vorticity of noise itself. Millisecond-to-millisecond, 'noise' presents a gaussian distribution of forces to both the generating component (“propeller”), and to the fuselage itself, on bouncing off it. It and the wings, if present. 

    № 3 — Though the structure will of course be designed to 'take the noise', it also is gradually structurally degraded by the noise itself. When flying 'last goat' from SFO to LAX (usually vice versa, after a convention) in a Saab turbofan twin, I always marvel at just how ridiculously loud the low-frequency thrum is from those twin unducted props for the whole journey. It is nearly incredible. 90 dB (and I think higher), whole trip. 

    Well, that harmonic prop wash apparently has resulted in many a airframe degradation over the history of airline flight. Weakening of joints, weakening of rivets attaching the skin to wings, to body.

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  12. As long as the transition to flight is done with a Big Red button that warns 'do not touch unless extreme emergency'

  13. I feel, though, that the air ferry concept is a different product from the flying car. Perhaps more sensible, but the point of the flying car isn't to be sensible, it's to be cool. For maximum coolness you really do want, when flying, a car with wings.

    The Convair was pretty dorky looking, but it did have some cool. Pull the same gag with a high end sports car. It starts out with good aerodynamics.

    You'd want a wing platform that was low to the ground, it would seal the bottom of the car off for aerodynamics, and close off the wheel wells. A nice swept wing and canard arrangement, like the Long-EZ.

    Being mounted to the underside of the car, the car's weight tends to hold the arrangement together, rather than trying to separate it. Which is good for my peace of mind, anyway.

    Then, since you've got a powerful engine, use a PTO off the bottom of the car to supply power to wing mounted props. Close to the body, of course, and ducted. While the wings would contain auxiliary fuel tanks for greater range. And down facing cameras, of course, because otherwise you won't be able to see where you're going.

    You'd actually drive onto this. For your typical sports car, this would require pneumatic suspension so that you could boost the ground clearance, but you'd want that anyway if you were going to use the car's wheels for landing gear.

    I think it could be made to work, as a fairly expensive accessory for a high end sports car. Very few modifications to the car would be needed.

  14. But the drones are loud because the props are inefficiently small. If you build a drone with props as large as the wingspan of a similarly heavy bird, you'll find it's a lot quieter.

  15. The problem with personal airships is the square cube law. Lift (And thus mass, and likely power.) goes with the cube of the size, surface area the square.

    So the smaller the airship, the more vulnerable it is to air gusts.

  16. This has big compromises as a flying car, no VTOL. Without that it’s a private jet that’s trying to be allowed to taxi using electric motors on roads.

  17. The problem is, people don't really want a car that can fly or a plane that can drive. They want a car that can free them from traffic jams.

    The fantasy is that their traffic-stalled car floats up above all the other cars and their frustrated drivers, zooming off at high speed, soaring around skyscrapers, landing gently in a parking spot right next to their desired destination. And having discovered this magical power, they never again get stuck in a traffic jam.

    Achieving that would take a lot more than adding jets and wings to a car – not least of which would be a new regulatory system.

    The flying car meme might go away if we eliminated daily traffic jams. Perhaps by shifting from a single common starting time to at least 3 different starting hours to avoid the synchronized flood of traffic onto highways. Or working from home 2-3 random days a week. Self-driving cars/cabs could also do the trick, if combined with traffic coordination to keep things moving optimally.

  18. Actually, the laws of physics DO have something to say about moving the air around.

    Not that it must always be loud, but that it must be loud if you want a decent weight per area loading.

    The math is pretty simple:
    To support a mass M in Earth gravity, you need an upwards force of M.g.

    That's the mass, multiplied by the acceleration of gravity (9.8 m/s/s)
    So each kg needs 1kg x 9.8 m/s/s = 9.8 N

    To get that force from moving air around, you need to accelerate a mass of air (Ma) downwards each second, such that Ma per second x air velocity Va = 9.8 kg.m/s/s = 9.8 N.

    Now how much air yare you moving? If you are moving 1000 kg of air per second, you can shoot it down at a gentle 0.098 m/s. Nice and quiet.
    Or 10g/s at 980 m/s and that will be a high pitched scream

    So, you want a big mass of slow air. But this depends on the area of your aircraft.
    If you aircraft occupies 1 square metre, then the mass/s of the air will be 1 sq.m x the air velocity x air density (1.3 kg/cubic metre).
    So, thrust = area x velocity x 1.3 x velocity = area x velocity squared (we'll ignore the 1.3, it's probably lost in inefficiencies anyway).

    So, thrust = area x velocity squared.
    For 1 kg and 1 sq.m you need velocity squared = 9.8.
    v = 3.13 m/s The sound of a gentle breeze.

    Let's try a car. Say 1000 kg, 5 m long, 1.5 m wide.
    v = sqrt ((1000 x 9.8)/(5 x 1.5)) = 36 m/s = 130 km/h = loud

  19. Personal airships have been done, and AFAIK they worked.

     He would float his No. 9 Baladeuse along Paris boulevards at rooftop level, sometimes landing at a cafe for lunch

    You have the standard airship issues of vulnerability to wind and bad weather, and being so large the traffic problems would be far worse that we experience with cars.
    You could probably go some way to solving the traffic issues by having strict control of allocated altitudes, but that brings us back to the standard "flying car" issue of air traffic control.

  20. I agree that this is a major problem which is not currently solved, but I don't think the laws of physics preordain that moving air around must be extremely loud. A bird the same size and weight of a drone can take off without an annoying buzz.

    There is probably a way to modify the shape or surface characteristics of propellers, or reimagine a way to move air that is somehow not a propeller, to get around this problem… eventually. If the grant money is forthcoming.

  21. Your best approach if you want a car that can fly is this type: Don't even need an airfield depending on design. Get a light road legal buggy, a big parasail and a big buttfan. It can get cold up there though. A small aluminum turbo engine might be best, as normally aspirated engines are made for sea level or something close.
    But this is not designed to get you somewhere fast, just have a bit of fun. But it won't cost millions either. A pontoon version might be great for exploring areas with a lot of lakes.

    If you want to go fast on the ground maybe this could be modified to fly as above:
    I don't know if that is the lightest road legal sports car in the US, but it is pretty light.
    Here would be an interesting choice: New for $24,000:
    Probably another $20,000+ to modify it to fly in a sound way. Maybe a big alternator to power an electric prop?

  22. I still don't understand why a drone-type VTOL can't be built using a petroleum fuel-based engine…

    Hollow carbon fiber (carbon fiber now sells for as low as $15/pound) could be used for the body/struts. Carry the fuel in the arm struts and landing struts, the way current aircraft store fuel in the wings…

    The carbon fiber could be wrapped with a type of light, durable, inexpensive foam rubber that protects the carbon fiber and is easily replaced. If we can manufacture Cessna(s) that very, very rarely crash into our houses (and cost around $100K), then why can't we do the same with a petroleum-engine drone that costs less than $200K and has a 300 mile range and can carry a 250 lb. load?

  23. All flying car designs seem to have in common that they are extremely loud. I'm not aware of any way around this limitation (esp. with VTOL, which seems like a requirement for a flying car to be useful)–other than using lighter-than-air flight, which has problems of its own. Admittedly it would be pretty cool to own my own personal airship, just not sure how practical it would be.

  24. The part you REALLY hit on the head well was, let me paraphrase: “any part not needed to be a plane is dead weight in flight, and any part not needed to be a car is a gawdoffal sic piece of mechanical craziness when rolling around as a car”.  More colorful, same idea. 

    Perhaps if we could really, really abstract the 'flying car' idea into two parts, as you have so handily done, perhaps we're really just talking about a big wide flying car 'tow truck', like those with the big platform that shuttles out, and the cars are pulled aboard with a winch, to be hauled to the paddy-yard for fee-release.  

    I imagine just that … a wing that pulls up to a ramp. You drive onto the plane. A large plastic-and-metal clamshell cover encloses the car, AFTER a tech secures the wheels with chocks and belts.  Enclosed, the pilot aboard the wing careens down the runways, takes off … and flies you to your destination.  There, you back off an identical platform.  

    The plane meanwhile is refueled and quickly checked. Another car alights, and again the (or another) pilot flies the wing to the next airport. The process repeats 24 hours a day, or until FAA mandated servicing is required. Top off the fluids, exchange pilots, and fly another car (empty-to-occupied) to a destination.  

    Makes much more sense. The cars never have to fly, themselves. And the per-mile rate would link to their takeoff mass.  Big hulks would cost more. No motorcycles. No pitstops.

  25. A flying brick. Terrible fuel efficiency, and therefor terrible range. And there is no point either, as it would need an airport, and anyone with deep enough pockets, would just have a super car and a jet/airplane. Going from one to the other is part of the fun.

  26. Yah.

    Flying cars.  
    With wings.  
    Which don't really like to fold away.  
    Which need to be BIG enough to keep the drag-to-lift ratio reasonably efficient.  

    The whole “electric takeoff and landing” business is just hopelessly faddish claptrap.  If one is going to stick jet engines (a pair!) aboard, one might as well put a third in there, of a different kind, which uses really-high bypass airflow, for 'cruising'.  Thermal-to-mechanical efficiencies exceeding 35% are not unrealistic. 

    I know I'm easily faulted for naysaying. Still, there is PHYSICS involved.  

    The presently irreducible physics of making structurally sound battery packs of sufficient energy (capacity, density, cost) to rival tankage, jet fuel and somewhat larger rotary petrol engines.  Every pound of additional battery requires at least 2 more pounds of structural integrity, wing area, fuselage strengthening.  Not a pretty picture. 

    80000 lbs take off mass? That is one BIG mother, for 2–3 passengers and a pilot.

    Ah, the pilot angle. Gotta have those. No 'pilotless' options with the FAA. Not at present.  

    I don't think … the concept really … flies.  
    Pardon the pun.

    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  27. Elon seems to think his VTOL supersonic Electric Jet will be possible with expected battery improvements within 10 years.

  28. The essence of the pitch except for it’s sorta cool seems to be that it can avoid deadhead trips with crew that account for 40% of private jet flights by driving when the big shots aren’t onboard.

  29. Seriously, that looks like a joke. Somebody just tacked wings and a big spoiler onto a stretched out car.

    The basic problem of flying cars, (Aside from the killer regulatory issues: The government just doesn't trust most people to be pilots.) is that of any dual purpose machine: For each mode it carries components that are unneeded, and excess weight. It's like driving around towing a plane, and then flying with a car in the cargo hold. 

    Your best bet would be a wing/engine/tank set that you left at the airport, and mated to the car only when you wanted to fly, so you didn't have to manage the bulky wings the rest of the time. Although a performance sports car equipped with a special transmission that could switch engine power to a PTO mated to the wing set would be an option, too. 

    In fact, they built something like that as far back as the 1940's.

  30. Who designed this? A 7-year-old? It looks absolutely *terrible*. After putting it next to that Lamborghini I would have realized we needed to redesign the entire thing. The fact that the initial design is so awful tells me that this project isn't being taken seriously.

  31. Flying cars have been technically feasible for years. The FAA was doing some work on a highway in the sky concept a few years ago too; the practical work they have had to with drones will bear on mass air traffic management solutions too.

    Cost per unit and limited customer base (currently would only include licensed pilots, but that could change) are the true barriers. Like fusion power, flying cars have been thirty years away for fifty years.

  32. Perhaps so if you can use even the smallest municipal airports, most of which have spare capacity.
    Statistica reports "In 2017, there were 5,104 public airports in the U.S., a slight decrease from the 5,145 public airports operating in 2014. Conversely, the number of private airports increased over this period from 13,863 to 14,263."
    It's possible that airports would evolve to be closer to highways without the need to file flight plans or do much of anything but take off and land, if some sort of low airspace agreement could be reached with flying car owners and airlines, like allocating bandwidth, but in the skies. If people can't afford these flying cars initially, they might be used like door-to-door airtaxis.

  33. So they ditched the vertical take off and went for the old 60'es idea of wings on a car? Because it is so practical to land you plane/car and then drive off from the airfield without having to find a cab?

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