Airspeeders, also known as aircars, were repulsorlift vehicles common throughout the galaxy. They were distinguished from landspeeders by a higher operating altitude and normally higher top speed. Some were also equipped with boosters that enabled them to achieve low planetary orbit for a short time. They were not designed for orbital flight, though they could attain such high altitude that they pushed the boundaries of atmosphere and space.
Airspeeders were used for a wide variety of roles galaxy-wide. These included transportation, recreation, and offensive and defensive combat. The skies of many industrialized and/or urbanized planets, particularly Coruscant and other Core Worlds, were often clogged with airspeeders. This became such a problem for ecumenopoleis such as Coruscant and Taris that they were forced to adopt a series of rigidly controlled skylanes to which most civilian airspeeders were regulated. To fly beyond these lanes often required special dispensation from the government; this often required the pilot to demonstrate a degree of skill in handling his craft.
Many notable companies produced airspeeders, including Incom Corporation, Tagge Company, and SoroSuub Corporation. Even the Yuuzhan Vong produced a type of combat airspeeder analog called the Tsik vai.
Famous airspeeder types
- The Incom Corporation T-16 skyhopper was considered the upper limit for airspeeder design when first produced. It was equipped with an ion drive, allowing it much broader operating parameters, including low planetary orbits. Its controls were similar to other Incom designs, allowing civilian pilots like Luke Skywalker to quickly adapt to the T-65 X-wing starfighter.
- Another Incom design, the T-47 airspeeder, was one of the most popular civilian airspeeders. It was modified by the Alliance to Restore the Republic with weapons and tow cables for pulling cargo skiffs. Later, when the Alliance established Echo Base on Hoth, they were further modified to operate in sub-zero temperatures. These airspeeders became known as snowspeeders.
- The Alliance frequently turned starfighters no longer suitable for space combat into customized combat airspeeders.
- The Storm IV Twin-Pod cloud car was another airspeeder with an additional ion engine for use in upper-atmosphere flight.
- The V-wing airspeeder manufactured by Slayn & Korpil for the New Republic was one of the fastest combat airspeeder types ever produced.
Behind the scenes
Author Aaron Allston, in three of the four novels he wrote for the X-wing series (X-Wing: Wraith Squadron, X-Wing: Iron Fist, X-Wing: Solo Command and X-Wing: Mercy Kill), used the word "skimmer" as a catch-all term for both landspeeders and airspeeders, despite the fact that skimmers were a distinct class or subclass of repulsorlift vehicle.