I’ve been thinking a lot about flying cars lately. The promoters of these cars have said nothing about what would happen if these things became popular. How would one qualify to operate one? Presumably the FAA would get responsibility for regulatory oversight of this new air traffic. What airspace would these flying cars be allow to fly in? Would they have to be automated? Would you dare fly without a backup pilot on board?

While driving on a busy road, look at how people drive. I’m sure you’ll agree that there might be a large fraction of folks who should not be allowed to control a flying vehicle. Just how much air traffic congestion could/should we tolerate overhead? The issues get stickier the more you think about it.

Currently there is extensive training and 3 tests to pass to get a basic airman’s certificate. Of course these vehicles could hit the market with full automation and without a licensed pilot. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be the need for a backup pilot for some period of time. After all, modern airliners are heavily automated but pilots are still required. And, do we really want them to land just anywhere even though that is a selling point? Perhaps there will be selected places where they can land, you know, like an airport.

I doubt that we’ll see flying cars replacing significant ground commuter traffic even into the distant future. I think they’ll get a recreational vehicle status and will be limited -economically- to wealthy status seekers, show-off executives, or the state.

Eventually, the police and FBI will want them them as well. And criminals.