There are still many regulatory hurdles to clear, but San Mateo’s Alef Aeronautics has won a Special Airworthiness Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration to perform limited testing on their “Model A” flying car.

Back in 2017, during the scandal-plagued era when Travis Kalanick was CEO of Uber, that company made the absolutely preposterous claim that Uber would have flying taxis by the year 2020. Well, Kalanick lasted a whole two months longer as Uber CEO after that claim, and 2020 came and went with no flying-car taxis. But there were a couple of smaller startups striving to build the first commercially available flying car, notably Google co-founder Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk, though that company also wound down operations last year.  

Now a new player is cleared for liftoff. NBC Bay Area reports the San Mateo-based Alef Aeronautics has been awarded regulatory approval to start testing their flying cars. That regulatory approval is Special Airworthiness Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the company claims in a release that this is “the first time a vehicle of this nature has received legal approval to fly from the US Government.”

"We're excited to receive this certification from the FAA,” Alef CEO Jim Dukhovny, said in that press release. “It allows us to move closer to bringing people an environmentally friendly and faster commute, saving individuals and companies hours each week. This is a one small step for planes, one giant step for cars."

The car is called the “Model A,” and is in a new high-tech class of cars called electrical vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles. Several tech companies are working on building them. But as CNN explains, the Model A “is different because of its ability to function both on roads and in the air, to appear like a normal car and to park in a normal parking space.”

These flying cars will be all-electric, can only carry two riders tops, and can run 200 miles on the road, or 100 miles in the air on a single charge. The finished product is still years away, as these cars would need National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to travel on roads.

But people are still plunking down money to preorder that Model A flying car. With an “expected price” listed at $299,999, you can place a general preorder at $150, or a priority preorder at $1,500.

And yes all the videos embedded in this post look cool, but it’s important to note that these are all animations. We haven't seen this thing work in real life, and the company is clearly trying to build investor hype. As we’ve seen from self-driving robot cars, there may be technical glitches and public safety problems that tech companies tend to try to sweep under rugs. And this is still just early stage testing, which the company admits “limits the locations and purpose for which Alef is permitted to fly.”

Related: Video: Personal Flying 'Car' Kitty Hawk Soars/Hovers Over Clear Lake, CA [SFist]

Image via Alef Aeronautics