FAA Approves First Flying Car Known As ‘Model A’ 

This week, the company Alef Aeronautics announced that their “Model A” flying car was granted legal permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to test run the vehicle on both the road and the sky. The vehicle will need to run through testing before it can be made available and released to the public.

Alef Aeronautics is the first company to gain the Special Airworthiness Certification from the FAA, the company said in a news release. This specific certification is also given to limit the locations and purpose for the vehicle and where it’s allowed to fly. 

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Before the vehicle can take flight, it also needs to meet the safety standards of the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. Alef CEO Jim Dukhovny stated that the company is “hopeful” that the “certification will be our next step.”

“The historical significance of this cannot be overstated. While there have been pioneers like Terrafugia, Paul Moller, and Henry Ford, this is the first time a vehicle, in the traditional sense (parks and drives like a car, functions like a car, looks like a car), has received permission to fly,”  Dukhovny said to USA TODAY

“It’s also important that Alef is the first electric car which received permission to fly. And, last but not least, the ability for vertical takeoff is central to most people’s conception of a ‘flying car.'”

During the “Model A’s” development and testing, Alef is required to report any issues, malfunctions, and/or defects to the US government agency under the Code of Federal Regulation. 

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Model A is also available for preorder, it will be able to hold up to two occupants, will sell for around $300,000, and is 100% electric. In the release, the company also stated the vehicle will be drivable on public roads and has vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. 

“The car will be a Low Speed Vehicle, meaning it won’t go faster than about 25 miles per hour on a paved surface. If a driver needs a faster route, they will be able to use the vehicle’s flight capabilities,” according to Alef.

Presales opened up on Friday. Interested customers were able to pay a $150 deposit to get on a waiting list, or $1,500 for a priority spot on the waiting list’s queue. 

The company has been test driving and flying the car’s prototype since 2019. The version that customers could receive has a driving range of 200 miles and a flight range of 110 miles. 

“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 Alef CEO Jim Dukhovny.

The company has stated that they plan to start delivering the vehicles to customers by late 2025.


FAA Issues Warning Over Airline Staff Shortages Ahead Of Busy Summer Travel Season 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned the industry of staffing shortages throughout the nation as the travel and tourism industry prepares for yet another busy summer travel season. The FAA is requesting that key facilities prepare to make operational adjustments as a means of preparation. 

The FAA held a meeting with the aviation industry last week as a means of brainstorming ways to manage travel this summer; especially in New York’s congested airspace and transportation hubs. 

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The agency is requesting that airlines cut back on the amount of offered flights to ease airport traffic during the peaks of the summer travel season. 

Last year, the nation’s travel and tourism industry faced one of the busiest summer season since pre-pandemic. A multitude of airline’s experiences flight disruptions, delays, and cancellations which the FAA is trying to avoid this year. 

According to the agency, this summer’s travel season is forecasted to increase by 7% in terms of traffic when compared to last year. The FAA also predicted a 45% increase in delays if airlines don’t intervene to prevent disruptions. 

“The FAA is taking several steps to keep air travel to and from New York City this summer safe and smooth, even as we see strong domestic demand and a return of pre-pandemic international traffic,” the agency said in a statement

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The agency also stated that the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), or N90, located on Long Island which is responsible for organizing flights to and from John F Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport, is suffering from a severe shortage of air traffic controllers and other staff. 

In a notice posted last month, the FAA revealed that the staffing throughout TRACON only covers 54% of what’s actually needed to operate smoothly during the busy summer season. 

They’ve claimed that one of the main reasons for these shortages has to do with the pandemic safety measures, which impacted workforce training throughout the past three years that agencies have still yet to recover from. 

The Washington Post reported “that airline executives expressed a willingness to cooperate with the agency; but, also some frustration, as they’re working to restore their own operations to pre-pandemic levels.”

Airlines have been told that they have until April 30th to make changes proposed by the FAA; United and Delta Air Lines have already stated they approve of the FAA’s proposal, and are ready to implement changes to make the season run as smoothly as possible for staff and travelers.

Verizon, AT&T To Launch 5G Rollout On Jan. 19 Following Delay

Verizon and AT&T will launch an upgraded 5G service on Jan. 19 following a delay at the request of Transportation Secretary Peter Buttigieg. The carriers had faced pressure from the White House and airlines over fears that the C-band transmissions would disrupt flights.

Verizon and AT&T — headed by CEOs Hans Vestberg and John Stankey, respectively — had previously rejected the request for postponement, saying that they were “willing to accept some temporary measures” over the next six months to limit services around certain airports and runways.

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Airlines asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to delay the launching, citing concerns that the 5G launch would interfere with the pilots and their aircraft electronics. Airlines For America (A4A) went into more details about the possible problems, noting the 5G spectrum is adjacent to the frequencies utilized by an aircraft’s radio altimeters. A4A also estimated that disruptions would cost passengers $1.3 billion in forms of lost time, productivity, and wages.

The service had been set to launch on Jan. 5. “We know aviation safety and 5G can co-exist and we are confident further collaboration and technical assessment will allay any issues,” AT&T said in a statement. The company also reiterated their plan to act carefully around specific airports in order to provide the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) more time to study potential affects, as well as to locate and fix any issues.

In their own statement, Verizon said that the delay helps to ensure the certainty of delivering the 5G network this month. An official told CNN that sides had been “working frantically” to come to an agreement, and that the result is “good in the interim.”

Buttigeig, along with FAA head Steve Dickerson, sent the joint request to Stankey and Vestberg on Dec. 31, asking for activation delays near an unknown number of “priority airports.” Carrier executives had concerns on their side as well, worrying that further 5G postponements would “harm customers.”

Executives added that agreeing to the request would not only be “unprecedented and unwarranted circumvention,” but an “abdication of the operating control” that’s required to control communications networks. Both companies had previously accepted a one-month delay, as the activation was initially planned for December.

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Verizon explains that the launch will allow more than 100 million people in 1,700 U.S. cities to get “Ultra Wideband” 5G service – at the cost of $80 a month. The carrier states that Ultra Wideband is 10x faster than their 4G LTE and allows download speeds up to one gigabit per second.

Last year, Verizon doubled its C-Band spectrum in an auction — adding between 140 to 200 MHz in every available market — at the cost of $52.9 billion dollars. AT&T didn’t hold back their wallet, either. The carrier spent $23 billion on spectrum purchases, as well as an additional $6 to $8 billion in deployment costs.

The spectrum expansions are crucial for both carriers in the fight for subscribers. T-Mobile has quickly supplemented itself with the two, as it added a total of 673,000 postpaid phone customers during the third quarter of 2021 – higher than Verizon (429,000) though lower than AT&T (928,000). Bloomberg noted T-Mobile has also taken a large lead in mid-band 5G services.