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Flying-car startup puts BlackFly on the fast track

BlackFly in flight
Opener says the BlackFly personal air vehicle has gone through 1,400 test flights. (Opener Photo)

A Silicon Valley startup called Opener is taking the wraps off a single-seat, all-electric flying vehicle known as BlackFly, which the company says will require no formal licensing in the U.S.

“The future of aviation begins today,” Alan Eustace, a former Google executive (and record-setting free-fall skyjumper) who is now a director at Opener, said in a news release. “The dream of flight, which was so difficult and expensive to obtain, will soon be within the reach of millions. Opener is putting the fun back into flying and opening up a new world of possibilities.”

Opener says a developmental version of the tandem-wing, eight-rotor craft has gone into the air more than 1,400 times, with the total distance flown exceeding 12,000 miles.

The vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft is flown with a joystick, has a pushbutton “Return-to-Home” system for autonomous flight back to its base, and can be outfitted with an emergency parachute.

“Safety has been our primary driving goal in the development of this new technology,” Opener CEO Marcus Leng said. “Opener will be introducing this innovation in a controlled and responsible manner.  Even though not required by FAA regulations, BlackFly operators will be required to successfully complete the FAA Private Pilot written examination and also complete company-mandated vehicle familiarization and operator training.”

In an interview with CBS, Leng said Opener is aiming to put BlackFly on the market next year for the “price of an SUV.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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