A flying car designed by Alef Aeronautics has been granted Special Airworthiness Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
It is the first time a vehicle of this nature has received legal approval to fly from the United States government.
According to Richard Sheng, in Systems Engineering for Aerospace, 2019, “Special Airworthiness Certificates are issued for aircraft that do not meet the high standards set for ‘standard’ aircraft but may be safely operated under limitations established in the Federal Aviation Regulations and/or prescribed by the issuing FAA inspector.”
Sheng added: “In general, an aircraft with a Special Airworthiness Certificate cannot be operated for hire, in some cases cannot carry passengers, and may be restricted to operations only over sparsely populated areas or over water.”
The FAA is actively working on its policies for electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, as well as governing interactions between eVTOLs and ground infrastructure.
Alef’s Special Airworthiness Certificate therefore limits the locations and purpose for which Alef is permitted to fly.
Alef’s eVTOL was unveiled on October 19, 2023, and is 100% electric, can be driven on public roads and has vertical take-off and landing capabilities.
The car maker has received a significant number of orders already in the hundreds, but with each vehicle priced at $300,000 it will be out of most people’s financial reaches.
However, the car will likely carry one or two people, so maybe a friend or relative could treat you to a ride.
“We’re excited to receive this certification from the FAA. It allows us to move closer to bringing people an environmentally friendly and faster commute, saving individuals and companies hours each week. This is a one small step for planes, one giant step for cars,” said Jim Dukhovny, CEO of Alef.