New milestone: Workhorse SureFly enters FAA certification process

Workhorse Group’s VTOL has become the first of its kind to enter the FAA type certification process.

The Group’s application was accepted at the beginning of June. As the aircraft is the first of its kind to embark on the FAA certification process, Workhorse will be collaborating with other unnamed experts in the VTOL field to develop the certification requirements for this new-wave of VTOL aircraft.

Progress has been fast for Workhorse, with the SureFly taking its first untethered flight less than a month ago. The company also claims it held an experimental certification status to test SureFly from the FAA prior to entering the type-certification process.

Steve Burns, CEO of Workhorse Group said: "The FAA has yet to certify an aircraft like SureFly. We have been working closely with the FAA while we have been under our Experiment Certification status, and we feel that its acceptance of our Type Certification application represents a vote of confidence in our team, our product and the future of electric vertical take and landing aircraft here in the United States."

The aircraft is targeting the private market rather than air-taxi services. Workhorse has identified the target markets for the aircraft as precision-agriculture, emergency responses and military use as well as short-range city commutes.

SureFly’s price comes in quite low, with a target of $200,000 and is available for reservation now for a $1000 deposit.

Why this is important

Other VTOL projects beat Workhorse to the punch in getting their experimental aircraft off the ground, and Volocopter becoming the first company to send its concept VTOL off to the production line. However, all eyes will be on Workhorse now to see just how viable it will be to get an VTOL flying in American airspace.

The US is one of the largest projected markets for VTOL aircraft, with a number of upcoming air-taxi services such as UberAir looking to launch in American cities firs. Acquiring FAA certification will be a necessity for these aircraft, especially for commercial use.

As Workhorse states, the regulatory framework required to fly an VTOL is non-existent. Whilst law-makers have been dragging their feet when it comes to creating a framework for drones and VTOLs, they will need to act fast if these aircraft are soon to start flying as intended.