All-Electric Flying Car Gets Go-Ahead for Testing

Author:
Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD

Date
08/01/2023

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Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD

“I was told we’d all have flying cars by now” is a common put down among those cynical of potential technological advancements. Up until now, they may have had a point, but with the news of the FFA granting Alef Aeronautics legal permission to test its Model A vehicle both on the road and in the air, they may have to look around for another example to highlight their scepticism.

The idea of flying cars goes back to almost the invention of cars and aeroplanes. It seems a natural progression to get the best of both worlds. The advantages speak for themselves, no traffic jams, speed restrictions, icy or flooded roads, and surely by the time that we can make flying cars work, we’d also manage to have a geofencing system that ensures other drivers don’t get too close. No more cutting in or tailgating! However, no matter how enticing the theory is, practical implementation has so far escaped us, hopefully until now.

The Alef Model A has been in development since 2018. The first full-sized prototype was manufactured in 2019 and the vehicle has been in testing ever since. It has been developed to be able to fit into a normal driving lane, be parked inside a regular garage and meet all traffic regulatory conditions. It can use both urban and rural roads as well as flying. As for range, on the road, the Model A is capable of driving 200 miles, and it can fly for 100 miles with the ability to take off and land vertically. It has a distributed electric propulsion system with no exposed propellers, software flight stabilization and safety system, elevon (combined control surfaces for pitch and roll) stabilization system, and all wheel driving.

The company plans to begin production and start delivering the vehicles at the end of 2025. Pre-orders are open now and require a deposit of $150 to join the regular queue or $1,500 for the priority queue. Unfortunately, the cost of the Model A is not cheap at $300K, so maybe the technological nay sayers will be able to hold on to their example for a little longer, however Alef has already announced its next project, which will be a four-person sedan with a target price of $35K and a projected launch date of 2035.

Alef claims to be the first company to get a Special Airworthiness Certificate from the FAA. Although the company will be able to test the vehicle on public roads and airspace, the certificate limits the areas and purpose for which the vehicle is able to fly. To perform testing on roads, the Model A must continue to meet National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration safety standards. The Code of Federal regulations will require Alef to report any issues, malfunctions or defects during testing to the FAA.

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