30th May 2024

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Business Industry and Financial

Meet the world’s first ‘certified’ electric flying car approved by US government

In a first, the United States government has given the official nod for a car to fly above traffic. You read that right! Alef Aeronautics announced that its fully electric car has received a Special Airworthiness Certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to literally…fly.

Thee FAA’s certification allows Alef to start testing the Model A before making it available to the public. (Alef Aeronautics)
Thee FAA’s certification allows Alef to start testing the Model A before making it available to the public. (Alef Aeronautics)

‘Model A’ is the first of its kind to receive the legal clearance to take off from the road to the sky. Based in San Mateo, California, the flying car costs around $299,999, approximately 2.46 crore.

“The FAA is actively working on its policies for electrical vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, as well as governing interactions between eVTOLs and ground infrastructure,” Alef Aeronautics said in a statement.

CEO Jim Dukhovny shared his excitement upon unlocking the achievement and said, “It allows us to move closer to bringing people an environmentally friendly and faster commute, saving individuals and companies hours each week. This is one small step for planes, one giant step for cars.”

FAA certification
The FAA is actively tracking the progress in flying cars and is working on shaping policies specifically for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, the technical term for electric flying cars.

This particular certification lays down restrictions on the locations and purposes for which the aircraft is permitted to fly. Primarily, it has granted Alef the approval to start testing the Model A before beginning its commercial operations.

The company is also expected to escalate any failures, malfunctions, or defects to the FAA during its testing phases.

Alef Aeronautics and Model A
In 2016, the automotive-aviation company built its first prototype which can drive like a car, have vertical takeoff capabilities, and is affordable. Model A has a driving range of 200 miles or about 322 km and has seating space for two lightweight individuals.

With eight propellers integrated into the body of the vehicle, it has a flight range of 110 miles or 177 km on a single charge.

The car takes up a regular parking space or garage and won’t go faster than 25 miles per hour on a paved surface as it is a low-speed vehicle. “The assumption is that, if a driver needs a faster route, Alef’s flight capabilities will be used,” the website states.

A four-person sedan – Model Z – is on the cards for a 2035 debut at a starting price of $35K. The company said it will have a driving and flying range of over 220-mile and 300-mile, respectively.

The company claims that it has already received over 440 bookings after starting presales in 2022 with CEO Dukhovny terming it an “incredible validation” of the market potential. Customers can preorder by paying either $150 for a general reservation or $1,500 for a high-priority queue.

Production of the Model A is likely to commence in the fourth quarter of 2025 with delivery of the units shortly after.

The company was founded in 2015 by Dr. Constantine Kisly, Pavel Markin, Oleg Petrov, Jim Dukhovny. The official website says that the dream of a flying car took wings with a sketch drawn on a napkin in a cafe.

Several other automakers are also in the process of producing “flying cars”, such as XPeng.