Zero B (technology demonstrator)
San Mateo, California, USA www.alef.aero
ALEF Aeronautics was founded in 2015 by Jim Dukhovny, Constantine Kisly, Pavel Markin and Oleg Petrov and is based in San Mateo, California, USA. The company is in the business of designing and developing a road driveable electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) flying car for advanced air mobility (AAM). The four founders were inspired to design and build a flying car from watching the 1985 American science fiction film movie, Back to the Future.
Tim Draper, an early investor in Elon Musk's Tesla, Inc. and SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp.) whose Draper Associates Fund V has backed Alef with $3 million USD in seed money. Alef emerged from stealth in October 2022 with the unveil of its full-sized sports car model along with two working full-size technology demonstrator vehicles. Subscale prototypes were successfully flown by the company in 2016 and a full size prototype was first flown in 2019.
Zero B full scale uncrewed eVTOL flying technology demonstrator
The Zero B is a full scale uncrewed eVTOL flying technology demonstrator. The technology demonstrator was made for test flights to evaluate the validity of its aerodynamics, avionics, electronics and component parts. The aircraft has not been flown by a pilot and has only been flown by remote control. If you notice in the picture below, the cockpit is not gimballed but is stationary. It is unknown if there are controls in the cockpit. Possibly the batteries are located in the cockpit.
The aircraft has eight propellers and eight electric motors for flight. The top of the aircraft has an open mesh top for protecting people and keeping objects out of the propellers. The bottom of the vehicle is completely open plus its structural elements. When in flight, the vehicle's novel design allows the car body to rotate vertically and perpendicularly to the cockpit. Then one side of the car's body becomes the top wing and the other side becomes the bottom wing. When in forward flight, the aircraft is transformed into a box-wing biplane. The cockpit is gimballed which keeps the passengers stable during all parts of the flight.
The Zero A does have four fixed rotating small wheels for landing gear but the technology demonstrator was not designed to test for road travel. The four small go-cart type non-steering wheels and is not roadable. These wheels allow the inventors to make it easy to wheel around the demonstrator on any flat surface and as pictured above, to make it easy to push the Zero onto and off a trailer.
Two full scale Zero technology demonstrators have been made as of 2023 and the company calls each demonstrator aircraft Zero. We are calling the first aircraft that was made named, Zero A. We are calling the second technology demonstrator that was made, Zero B. Two separate teams created each Zero technology demonstrator. The company's reasoning for having two independent teams working on each technology demonstrator, will mean faster progress.
Limited Special Airworthiness Certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
On June, 27, 2023, Alef Aeronautics announced the company has received a limited Special Airworthiness Certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for limited flight testing. The company has stated this marks the first time an eVTOL roadable vehicle has received legal approval to fly from the US Government.
Pre-orders, price and estimated delivery of the Model A
The company also said earlier in 2023, it had taken refundable pre-orders for more than 400 of the two passenger eVTOL vehicles at a cost of $150.00 USD to be in the general queue or $1,500.00 USD for the priority queue. The company expects to sell the Model A for $300,000.00 USD each, with the first delivery projected for the end of 2025.
Price and estimated delivery of the Model Z
ALEF Aeronautics anticipates to produce a four passenger Model Z by 2030 and intends to sell the vehicle for $35,000.00 USD each. The company has stated the Model Z will not be that complex which is why the vehicle will be priced with such an affordable price tag.
Aircraft type: Full scale passenger eVTOL technology demonstrator aircraft
Piloting: Remote controlled
Cruise speed: Unknown
Propellers: 8 propellers
Electric motors: 8 propellers
Power source: Batteries
Cockpit: Canopy-type fixed positioned cockpit
Landing gear: 4 small go-cart type non-steering wheels and is not roadable
Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one or more propellers (ducted fans) or motors fail, the other working propellers (or ducted fans) and motors can safely land the aircraft. There are also redundancies of critical components in the sub-systems of the aircraft.
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