The Federal Aviation Administration has certified to test a vehicle that a California startup is describing as a flying car — the first all-electric vehicle that can both fly and travel on roads to gain approval from the U.S. government.
Alef Automotive said their vehicle/plane, called “Model A,” is the first flying vehicle that can be driven on public roads and can park like a normal car. It also has vertical take-off and landing. It will apparently be able to carry one or two passengers and will have a range of 200 miles and a flying range of 110 miles.
The company expects to sell the vehicles for $300,000 each with the first delivery estimated for late 2025.
The FAA confirmed that the company has been issued a special certificate of airworthiness, which allows limited purposes that include exhibition, research and development.
Numerous companies are working on all-electric VTOLs, which stand for vehicles that take off and land aircraft. The FAA said the Alef “is not the first aircraft of its kind” to receive a special certificate of airworthiness. However, Alef noted that the vehicle is different because of its ability to function both on roads and in the air, to look like a regular car and to park in a regular parking lot.
Alef Aeronautics Inc
Alef Aeronautics’ flying car will be unveiled on October 19, 2022.
“We are pleased to receive this certification from the FAA. It allows us to get closer to providing people with an environmentally friendly and faster commute, saving individuals and businesses hours each week. This is one small step for airplanes, one giant step for cars,” says Jim Dukhovny, CEO of Alef.
The company’s website said the flying car will be certified as a “low-speed vehicle,” meaning it won’t be able to travel faster than about 25 miles per hour on a paved road. “The assumption is that if a driver needs a faster route, a driver will use Alef’s flight capabilities,” the company wrote on its website.
Regardless, it also still needs approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to hit the roads.
Development has been ongoing on the vehicle since 2015. Four friends, Constantine Kisly, Pavel Markin, Oleg Petrov and Dukhovny, inspired by the “Back to the Future” movies (which predicted the availability of flying cars that year), decided to form a company to try to develop them.
According to the company, an initial automated test flight of a skeleton version of the car was successfully completed in 2018, and a full-size prototype was flown the following year. But Alef said it needed the FAA’s special airworthiness certificate to continue conducting the necessary research and development.
The company also said earlier this year it had taken refundable pre-orders for more than 400 of the vehicles, with a charge of $150 to stand in the general queue or $1,500 for the priority queue.