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Japan just got one step closer to having flying cars jetting around its major cities. It has opened type safety certification for the SkyDrive SD03 Flying Car. That means certification is in the works, with the plan for these to be commercially available in 2025. 

Is SkyDrive’s SD03 a flying car?

SkyDrive SD03 flying car
SkyDrive SD03 flying car eVTOL | SkyDrive

SD03 is currently a single-seat experimental electric flying car. With both vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, it is as much a form of a helicopter as a car. But without the giant propeller. These are also called eVTOL for electric vertical takeoff and landing, but we prefer to call them flying cars

It does have propellers. In fact, eight small ones that are placed on the side of the fuselage. They’re incorporated into electric motors, much like small drones. If one or two motors fail in flight, it can still land without drama. It has already seen a manned demonstration back in August 2020. 

SD03 can reach a cruising speed of 25 to 31 mph, with a time range of five minutes to 10 minutes. It can easily land within the space of two car parking spaces. 

What is Japan’s type certification for flying cars?

SkyDrive SD03 flying car
SkyDrive SD03 flying car eVTOL | SkyDrive

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation, and Tourism does the certification. It approves the vehicle for design, structure, strength, and performance. Safety and environmental regulations are also certified by the MLITT. SkyDrive now must go through a regimen to show the MLITT it can pass all of its mandates. 

Once it is deemed safe and reliable, final development and production will commence. Then, will we be seeing these around Tokyo? It depends. Concurrent to certification and development, Japan will need regulations and communications set up to handle a swarm of flying cars

SkyDrive SD03 flying car
SkyDrive SD03 flying car eVTOL | SkyDrive

Takeoff and landing pads will need to be available, and regulations for altitudes and distances established. It is unclear if these hurdles can be achieved by the time the SkyDrive flying car becomes available. And there is more than one company currently developing Urban Air Mobility vehicles in Japan. So some coordination must be in place before we see regular use of flying cars. 

Watch it fly with your own eyes

Watching the demonstration video, you can see it has extreme maneuverability. Tight corners and pinpoint landing seemed to be effortless. Of course, everything was done with extreme care and without hurry. But you can imagine it being a fairly undemanding process. 

We were also surprised that there wasn’t more noise from the propellers. Other tests of similar vehicles demonstrate they make a lot of noise, which could be a limiting factor for many. Part of the process is the enjoyment of flying, without a giant beehive buzzing around your head. 

Hopefully, certification will be completed within a year and then Japan will be tasked with controlling what is expected to be a rush of buyers. They’ll most certainly be eager to shed their wheels and begin flying to everything from the kid’s soccer games to a night out on the town. 


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