By S.L. Fuller | January 4, 2018
The FAA has made clear it intends to embrace the “flying car” revolution. The agency has stood by Uber as it announced its initiative and has noted that the newly redone Part 23 could potentially be used as a certification vehicle. Now the FAA has granted a vehicle an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate, allowing flight testing to occur.
Workhorse Group Inc.’s SureFly “electric hybrid helicopter,” as the company calls it, has its first test flight scheduled for Jan. 8 in Las Vegas — prior to the start of the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show.
The aircraft is eight propellers on four propeller arms that can accommodate two people. It has a 400-pound payload capacity with a range of some 70 miles — the hybrid propulsion system combines gasoline and electric power. The aircraft also has a backup lithium battery pack. Workhorse said it hopes future SureFly models will be able to fly autonomously. But for now, models will be manned.
SureFly is expected be fully certificated by the FAA in 2019. Once it enters the market, it is projected to carry a price tag of $200,000. Target markets include precision agriculture, surveillance, aerial inspection, emergency response tasks, urban commuting and various military applications, according to Workhorse.
The company said in December that it plans to spin off its SureFly business into a separate publicly traded company, SureFly Inc.
Workhorse is based in Ohio. It designs and builds high performance battery-electric vehicles, which includes trucks and aircraft. The company said it also offers cloud-based, real-time telematics performance-monitoring systems that are fully integrated with its vehicles.