On June 12th, 2023 Alef Aeronautics, based in Northern California, received special airworthiness certification from the FAA. This allows for exhibition, research and development of their flying car prototype, dubbed “Model A”. While they are not the first aeronautic company to receive permission to test flying cars, they are the first to test a car capable of both road and air travel. This means the Model A can drive on public streets, park in parking spaces, float over road blocks, and also fly. If you think this sounds more like something out of a movie than reality, you’re not alone. But let’s examine the progress Alef’s made and what that means for the near future.
All About the Model A
The Alef Aeronautics Model A has four wheels, an electric motor, and an estimated road range of up to 200 miles. It is currently classified as a “low speed vehicle”. This means it only goes up to about 25 mph in road mode. Alef Aeronautics is not overly concerned about this, since their focus is to produce an air-worthy commuter. The potential is that it will reduce work travel times, by hovering above traffic lines.
Unlike some of its Chinese counterparts, the Model A looks much more like a car than a drone. However, this changes when the vehicle goes into air mode. It would appear the vehicle turns vertical, but in fact the seat remains upright. Separately, the body repositions by 90 degrees in order to maximize airflow. While in air mode the Model A is said to travel up to 110 miles on a single charge.
Alef Aeronautics hopes to begin production in 2025. However, even Alef’s CEO Jim Dukhovny admits this is an ambitious goal. They’ve yet to receive approval from the NHTSA, some engineering issues must be addressed, and rigorous testing will need to be conducted. Even so, right now you can preorder your own Model A with a modest $150 deposit. Expect to pay upwards of $300,000 to pick it up though. So far over 400 orders have been placed.
Alef Aeronautics started in 2015 with a dream to build flying cars. If this is reminding you of “Back to the Future”, there’s a reason for that. Inspired by the film, and feeling that technology was finally capable of such a feat, four engineer friends convened to discuss the possibilities. Learn all about Alef’s journey to the year 2023.