Workhorse hybrid Vtol to begin test flights

American electric vehicle developer Workhorse has been given the go-ahead to begin test flights of its upcoming SureFly hybrid vertical take off and landing (Vtol) rotorcraft.

The Vtol received the experimental airworthiness certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in preparation for its debut test flight today at 12pm PST in Las Vegas. The flight will be conducted at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

SureFly is a two-person eVtol with a drone-inspired design. The aircraft has a 400-pound payload capacity and a max range of 70 miles. Workhorse claims the helicopter is easier than a standard helicopter, being controlled joystick similar to those found on drones, as well as being cheaper to operate.

It features a hybrid propulsion system, accepting gasoline and electric power to run the eight propellers. Safety features include a backup lithium battery pack if the engine fails and a ballistic parachute that will land the Vtol safely in an emergency.

Early models will be available for approximately $200,000 and will be pilot operated with future models being capable of autonomous flight. SureFly is expected to serve emergency response, precision agriculture and surveillance markets as well as urban commuting and potential military operations.

Workhorse expects SureFly to be fully FAA certified by 2019.