Alef’s Flying Car Cleared for Takeoff by FAA

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By Cameron Kerkau Associate Editor,SME Media
Alef Aeronautics Inc.’s Model A flying car. (Photo provided by Alef)

San Mateo, Calif.-based Alef Aeronautics Inc. announced on Tuesday that it received a Special Airworthiness Certification from the United States Federal Aviation Administration for its Model A flying car, authorizing the aircraft to operate in U.S. airspace.

Alef says its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle, the Model A, will carry one or two occupants, is 100% electric and drivable on public roads. The company says its FAA certification is the first time “a vehicle of this nature has received legal approval to fly from the U.S. Government.”

Similarly, Joby Aviation Inc. of Santa Cruz, Calif. announced on Wednesday that it also received a Special Airworthiness Certification for its eVTOL designed for commercial passenger service. Another eVTOL, an aircraft from Archer Aviation Inc., received its Special Airworthiness Certificate in 2021, and other “flying cars,” such as Samson Sky’s Switchblade and Terrafugia Inc.’s Transition, received similar clearance from the FAA, though those vehicles are not electric.

The first aircraft to come off Joby’s Pilot Production Line in Marina, CA (left). (Photo provided by Joby Aviation Inc.)

The FAA is actively working on its policies for 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 can fly.

“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,” says Jim Dukhovny, CEO of Alef.

Alef was founded by Dukhovny, Konstantin Kisly, Pavel Markin and Oleg Petrov in 2015–the same year that Marty McFly saw his first flying car in “Back to the Future II,” as the company’s website makes clear. According to the company, Alef began demoing its flying car for investors in 2019 and unveiled it to the public in October 2022. It has since begun accepting “fully refundable” pre-orders on its website.