Japan-built flying car set for first test flights on home turf
The Mk-5 has a 160 km range and is expected to start at around $360,000. (Photo courtesy of teTra Aviation)
NARUSHI NAKAI, Nikkei staff writer | Japan
TOKYO — A Japanese flying car with a Ferrari-sized price tag will begin test flights in its home country by next spring, marking its first air miles with a pilot on board.
University of Tokyo-spawned startup teTra Aviation plans to begin testing its single-person electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with an operator on board in Japan by March 2022. The Tokyo company has received certification for testing from the Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. and is conducting tests there without an operator aboard.
The Mk-5, unveiled at an American aviation show earlier in the summer, is just one of the global contenders in flying cars — a field that has attracted the likes of Uber Technologies, Hyundai Motor, Japan Airlines and Toyota Motor. The plane has a 160 km range and is expected to start at 40 million yen ($360,000).
Preorders have begun, and more than 100 inquiries from potential buyers have already come in, according to the company.
The aircraft received FAA clearance for test flights after a document review and on-site inspection. It will be eligible for test flights in Japan with the transport minister’s permission.
Using results from uncrewed testing in the U.S., improvements will be made to the Mk-5 in Japan starting this October. By March, it will be test-flown with an operator at an altitude of 5 meters to 7 meters for about three minutes in Fukushima Prefecture, north of Tokyo.
Another Japan-based developer of flying cars, SkyDrive, conducted a public crewed test flight in Aichi Prefecture a year ago. SkyDrive was founded by a former Toyota employee and tested its vehicle in the automaker’s home city. Both companies aim to begin flight operations by 2025, when Osaka hosts the World Expo.