For the price of a luxury electric car, you can now buy a personal electric plane that can take you as high as 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) in the sky without a pilot’s license.
On Thursday, the Swedish startup Jetson Aero presented its first commercial product, a single-seater aluminum aircraft called the Jetson, available for only $ 92,000 in the United States from next year.
For that price, you get a semi-assembled kit, which contains an aluminum space frame, engine controls, propellers and motors, as well as an assembly guide.
Weighing only 40 kg (88 pounds) when empty, the Jetson One is categorized as an ultralight aircraft in the United States, which does not require a pilot license to fly.
The aircraft with a seat can carry a passenger weighing up to 90 kg (198 pounds). The operator uses a throttle control, a joystick and pedals to control the aircraft’s movements, while a computer software ensures that it is stable during the flight. To ensure safety, the vehicle is also equipped with Lidar sensors for off-road tracking and avoidance of obstacles and a ballistic parachute that can be deployed in no time in the event of an engine failure or battery failure.
Jetson Aero is one of the many startups that are investing in the growing interest in eVTOL, or electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles. But compared to most companies in this space that focus on developing large, multi-seat city aviation taxis, the Jetson Aero looks more like a toy for hobbyists, which, on the plus side, saves it from a lot of complicated regulation processes.
The Federal Aviation Administration considers that ultralight is not aircraft but “vehicles” that are not required to meet US or foreign airworthiness certification standards.
Ultralights are not new. In the United States, they have been around since the 1970s. Since ultralights do not need to be registered, it is unclear how many of them are used. According to an outdated estimate of US Ultralight Association, There were about 18,000 ultralights of all kinds – airplanes, motor parachutes, paragliders – throughout the country from the end of the 1990s.
Most ultralights are used for recreational purposes. According to FAA rules, these vehicles can not be flown over congested areas of a city (so, do not expect it to help you skip rush hour traffic) or restricted airspace, such as airports. They are also not allowed in the sky during the night.
The Jetson One is designed to fly at a maximum speed of 63 mph and hover up to 20 minutes on a single charge, which means that it is probably not enough for a daily commute yet.
Jetson Aero plans to manufacture only 12 Jetson One vehicles by 2022. All have already been sold, according to company website, to buyers in the US, Europe and Brazil. Currently, there are only three units left for 2023.