The future has finally arrived and science fiction has come true. After years and decades, we’ve been teased about the possibility of flying cars. Is it finally time? Has the car in “Back to the Future” finally been built?
Kinda. Under experimental status, Alef Aeronautics’ flying car (Model A) now has permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to test its car/plane in the sky/on the road. But, the vehicle also needs to meet National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration standards.
Model A has been designed to drive on streets and take off vertically to fly above traffic. While not yet available, Interested customers can pre-order their flying cars and be placed in a priority queue for the low fee of $1,500 (the final estimated price is $300,000).
Model A can be driven on regular roads; it fits into normal driving lanes and even fits into a regular parking space or garage. On the ground, the car has a 200-mile range. When ready to fly, the car takes off vertically, allowing drivers to fly above obstacles yet still remain stable due to a unique gimbaled design. It has no exposed propellers, 110-mile range in the sky, and works similar to a drone (no wings!).
Alef is not the only company exploring flying cars. Another company, ASKA, also has been cleared by the FAA and has started flight testing. ASKA’s A5 is hybrid with batteries and can use premium gasoline. This vehicle does have wings, six independent rotors, and a parachute. It also have vertical takeoff and landing, and can enter an airfield by driving through the gate. It already has reached $50 million in pre-orders. Let’s fly away…
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Poll students: What are their thoughts about flying cars? Any interest in owning one?
- View Alef Aeronautics site: https://alef.aero/
- Play Model A video: https://youtu.be/E5YRh8vLjLU
- View ASKA’s site: https://www.askafly.com/
- Play ASKA A5 video: https://youtu.be/d7lA3Ibv1MA
- Discuss the components of a situation analysis: company, general industry, trends, key competitors, technology, legal, etc.
- Ask students what data they would want in order to make marketing decisions for Model A and ASKA A5.
- Divide students into teams. Have each team use laptops to do general research to answer the questions above. (ex: overview of industry, size, growth, new technologies, environmental impact, etc.)
- Debrief the exercise by compiling information on the white board. Does this give a good picture of the situation?
Source: The first flying car, ‘Model A,’ approved by the FAA and it’s 100% electric. (3 July 2023) CNN; FAA clears ASKA’s flying car. IEN Staff (June 30,2023).