Fact is blending with fiction when it comes to automobile technology as the first formal steps to legalise flying cars have been taken. While multiple prototypes of flying cars have been developed, most of them don’t have clearances from governments to actually take to the public airspaces.
The United States government, however, has finally issued the necessary clearances for a flying car prototype by an aeronautics company called Alef Aeronautics.
Alef Aeronautics has become the first company to obtain limited FAA Special Airworthiness Certification for its flying Model A, which was unveiled in October 2022 and is nearing production readiness. The FAA or the Federal Aviation Administration, is the governing body of the US that deals with all air crafts and their airworthiness.
The FAA is actively monitoring the progress and advancements in flying cars and is working on developing policies specifically for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, the technical term for electric flying cars.
Alef has achieved the distinction of being the first company to receive approval from the US government agency for the Special Airworthiness Certificate. This certificate imposes limitations on the locations and purposes for which the aircraft is permitted to fly, but it goes a long way in helping developers seek clearances and test runs of their eVTOL
Essentially, the FAA’s certification enables Alef to commence testing the Model A before making it available to the public with its intended capabilities.
“We are thrilled to have received this certification from the FAA. It brings us closer to providing people with an eco-friendly and faster commuting option, saving individuals and companies countless hours every week,” said CEO Jim Dukhovny. “This is a small step for planes, but a giant leap for cars.”
In accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations, the holder of this certificate is obligated to report any failures, malfunctions, or defects to the FAA during the aircraft’s development and testing phases.
The FAA follows a stringent process to ensure the safety of the vehicle in question and its suitability for operation within approved U.S. airspace for various types of flights, including personal, restricted, light sport, experimental, and special purpose flights. Typically, aircraft with this certificate cannot be operated for commercial purposes or carry passengers.
The Alef Model A offers its users the unique ability to drive on roads and also fly above traffic. The Model A, an EV, has a driving range of 200 miles or about 322 km, or it can fly a range of 110 miles or 177 km on a single charge.
In terms of design, it features eight propellers that are integrated into the body of the vehicle. The car has enough seating space for a maximum of two lightweight individuals. However, Alef has future plans to develop flying cars that can accommodate more passengers.
According to Alef, they have been inundated with preorders for their flying EV from both individuals and companies. Interested customers have the option to preorder the car by paying either USD 150 for a general non-priority queue or USD 1,500 for a high-priority queue. The final price of the car is estimated to be USD 299,999, which is approximately INR 2.46 crore.