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A Historic Year for Flying Cars: 6 eVTOL Companies Dominating 2021

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A Historic Year for Flying Cars: 6 eVTOL Companies Dominating 2021
An eVTOL developed by Joby Aviation is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during the company’s initial public offering on August 11, 2021. Liao Pan/China News Service via Getty Images

Here we are at the tail end of 2021 and, sadly, flying cars are still not a reality for everyday commuters. Nevertheless, it has been a remarkable year for the eVTOL (electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles) industry, which saw a record number of SPAC deals, test flights and even some companies entering the licensing process.

It’s estimated that there are at least 200 companies globally working on eVTOLs for various use cases, from shared urban air taxis to personal recreational aircraft. But like any nascent industries, when it eventually matures there won’t be many players left. “There might be only four or five players that will eventually survive this journey,” Gary Gysin, CEO of Mountain View, Calif.-based Wisk Aero, told Observer in an interview in summer.

Several frontrunners are targeting mass production and regulatory approval around 2023 or sooner. Some ultralight eVTOLs, which don’t require a pilot license to fly in the U.S., are already available for pre-order.

Below, we have rounded up the six most promising flying car companies that have dominated news headlines this year. The companies are listed in no particular order.

Kitty Hawk—Heaviside

A Historic Year for Flying Cars 6 eVTOL Companies Dominating

Type: Personal aircraft
Development stage: Pre-human flight
Capacity: single seat
Price: N/A
Performance: Top speed 180 mph; range 100 miles

Established a decade ago by Google cofounder Larry Page, Kitty Hawk is the company that started it all. After project cancellations and corporate restructuring in recent years, Kitty Hawk’s newest eVTOL is a fully autonomous, single-seat aircraft called Heaviside, named after the 18th century English engineer Oliver Heaviside.

Kitty Hawk began working on Heaviside in 2019. The company’s CEO Sebastian Thrun said he would follow in the footsteps of Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson and be his company’s first passenger as soon as the prototype is ready to fly. Heaviside’s maiden flight will aim as high as 1,000 feet and hover in the air for about five minutes, the company said.

Wisk Aero—Cora

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Type: Air taxi
Development stage: Prototype
Capacity: Two passengers
Price: $4 and $8 per passenger mile
Performance: Top speed 110 mph; range 62 miles

As mentioned above, Kitty Hawk has discontinued several eVTOL projects over the years. One of them is Cora, an autonomous two-seater aircraft currently being developed by a new company called Wisk Aero, a joint venture between Kitty Hawk and Boeing.

Like Kitty Hawk’s Heaviside, Cora is designed to fly without a pilot. The current prototype, the fifth generation, can carry two passengers. Wisk’s ultimate goal is to build a larger eVTOL that can be used as an urban air taxi—at a price comparable to Uber X.

Archer Aviation—Maker

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Type: Air taxi
Development stage: Test flight
Capacity: Four passengers
Price: Comparable to UberX
Performance: Top speed 150 mph; range 60 miles

Archer Aviation is barely three years old. But it has an ambitious timeline to start volume production as soon as 2023 and has already sold $1 billion worth of pre-orders to United Airlines.

Archer’s eVTOL, “Maker,” has a very similar appearance to Wisk’s Aero. (In fact, They are so similar that Wisk has sued Archer for stealing trade secrets. Archer has hit back with a suit alleging smear campaign.)

Archer is developing Maker at a facility near the Palo Alto Airport. The company completed its first hover test flight on December 16 at an undisclosed location in California.

Joby Aviation—S4

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Type: Air taxi
Development stage: Test flight
Capacity: 4 passengers
Price: N/A
Performance: Top speed 200 mph; range 150 miles

If there’s a company best equipped to build a Uber network for the air, it has to be Joby Aviation, the company that absorbed Uber’s flying car division (Uber Elevate) in 2020.

At least from a marketing perspective. Joby had already been working on eVTOLs before acquiring Uber Elevate, but said Uber’s software and personnel would help it accelerate commercializing air taxi services.

Joby’s latest prototype, S4, is a piloted aircraft that can fly up to four passengers for 150 miles on a single charge. Mass production is expected to start soon at a facility in Marina, Calif. The FAA and the city of Marina approved of Joby’s manufacturing plan in June.

SkyDive (Japan)— SD-03

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Type: Urban taxi
Development stage: Licensing
Price: N/A
Capacity: Single seat
Performance: Top speed 30 mph; maximum flight time 10 minutes

Japan’s SkyDive may be a small player in the eVTOL world by funding size. But it’s the only company that has successfully taken a piloted vehicle off the ground. In August 2020, the company’s prototype SD-03 completed a five-minute test flight with a pilot on board in the Japanese city of Toyota.

In November, SD-03 received a type certificate from Japan’s transportation regulator. The certification is an official endorsement of the aircraft’s design and paves the way for manufacturing and commercialization down the road.

The current version of SD-03 can fly up to 10 minutes at a top speed of 30 mph (48 km/h). Its next iteration aims to extend maximum flight time to 30 minutes and raise top speed to 40 mph. The company expects aims to launch a flying taxi service with SD-03 in Japan’s Osaka Bay area as early as 2025. It also has plans to roll out a two-seater commercial model in 2023.

Jetson Aero (Sweden)—Jetson one

A Historic Year for Flying Cars 6 eVTOL Companies Dominating

Type: Personal aircraft
Development stage: Pre-market (available in 2022)
Capacity: Single seat
Price: $92,000
Performance: Top speed 63 mph; maximum flight time 20 minutes

Finally a flying car you can order now! Swedish startup Jetson Aero’s personal electric plane, Jetson One, will be available in the U.S. in 2022. For an affordable $92,000, you will get a lightweight single-seat aircraft that can fly you to nearly 5,000 feet in the sky without a pilot license, because, at only 88 pounds, it’s considered as a “vehicle,” not a plane, under the FAA’s rules.

Prepare for a long wait list, though. All Jetson One vehicles are sold out for 2022, according to Jetson Aero’s website. There are only three units left for 2023.

A Historic Year for Flying Cars: 6 eVTOL Companies Dominating 2021

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Dear Abby: Baby daddy isn’t ready to put a ring on it

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Dear Abby: Can’t budge lonely, needy friend from the phone

Dear Abby: My girlfriend, “Dyanne,” and I recently had a baby conceived not long after we started dating. While I love my child with all my heart, Dyanne is constantly dropping hints that she wants an engagement ring or a “promise ring.” I understand why because she has explained her reasons. But she’s pressuring me to provide something I believe should come when I feel comfortable doing it.

While some would say I don’t act like it, I’m traditional in some ways for a millennial. I believe that when I give someone a ring, it should be because I plan to marry her. I don’t consider marriage the way most do, and think I can just get divorced and it’s no big deal. I think Dyanne puts too much emphasis on what others think and that’s one of the reasons she wants a ring.

Am I wrong to stall until I feel ready to actually propose and not just say, “Sure. One day we will, and here’s a ring in the meantime”?

— Unengaged in California

Dear Unengaged: Nowhere in your letter did you mention that you love Dyanne. You should not give her a ring and keep her in a holding pattern if you aren’t sure you want to follow through with the commitment. Be honest. Tell her you care about her and love your child and intend to responsibly co-parent with her, but you are not ready for marriage and don’t know when you will be. That’s the truth.

Dear Abby: I’m a volunteer tour guide for several historic sites. One of them is a cemetery. My fellow guides and I are concerned — not to mention saddened — when we see children running around unsupervised, and standing on and climbing on the gravestones. Cemeteries are sacred places in which the dead should be remembered and honored.

When parents or caretakers allow children to use the cemetery as a play area, they fail to teach them respect for the dead or for the survivors who are visiting the graves of their loved ones. They also place their children in danger. Gravestones can fall or tip over. Children have been killed or seriously injured by toppling stones. Flat grave markers can be tripping hazards. When we caution parents about these dangers, we are often met with indifference.

Please urge your readers to take our concern for their children’s safety seriously and control their children’s activities in cemeteries.

— Concerned Tour Guide

Dear Concerned: I’m pleased to pass along your message because it is an important one. Cemetery etiquette is simple: Treat the graves as you would the graves of your own cherished loved ones, or as you would like your own to be treated. This includes no loud chatter, and because there are people in mourning there, not walking on the graves, not leaving chewing gum on the gravestones, keeping pets leashed — if they are brought there at all — and teaching children the difference between a cemetery and a playground.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com. 

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Gallery: Celtics win matinee against the Pelicans 104-92

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Gallery:  Celtics win matinee against the Pelicans 104-92

Matt Stone is an award-winning photojournalist who has been working at the Boston Herald for the past 26 years. Matt has won numerous awards for his work in the area of spot news, sports, photo essays and features. Thanks to the success of our New England sports teams, Matt has been able to bring Herald readers along for the championship runs of the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins.

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Should I take a rapid coronavirus test or a PCR? Public health experts breakdown the facts

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Should I take a rapid coronavirus test or a PCR? Public health experts breakdown the facts

Hours-long lines for coronavirus PCR tests are prompting public officials to push the masses to use rapid, at-home antigen tests instead, but public health experts warn the 15-minute tests are sometimes prone to false negatives.

Gov. Charlie Baker last week said: “Rapid tests, in some ways, are a more accurate measure of whether or not somebody is actually transmitting COVID than a PCR test is.”

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