Workhorse SureFly First Flight at CES Scrubbed

Company creates new aviation business unit.

While early SureFly models will be pilot operated, Workhorse hopes future versions will operate autonomously.Workhorse

Ohio-based Workhorse planned a spectacular way to open the first day of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, when the company intended to fly its two-seat SureFly electric hybrid helicopter for the first time. Unfortunately the weather in Vegas didn’t cooperate and the maiden flight was scrubbed.

First introduced at last year's Paris Air Show, the SureFly octocopter last week earned its experimental FAA certificate as the company works toward full FAA certification by the end of next year. No word yet on a new date for that first flight.

While early SureFly models will be pilot operated, the company hopes future versions will operate autonomously. The SureFly will carry two people as far as 70 nm to altitudes of 4,000 feet. The aircraft uses a gasoline-fired piston engine to drive the dual generators needed to power its eight electric motors, each driving a single propeller. The machine incorporates a dual Lithium battery pack as an engine-failure back-up and comes standard with a ballistic parachute system. Retail price of the potential air-taxi machine is just $200,000.

Workhorse, traditionally a creator of electric mobility solutions for commercial transportation, recently created a new public aviation division called SureFly Inc. that includes the company's aerial technology, like the SureFly octocopter and the HorseFly drone. The new company will focus on its new flying machines so Workhorse can focus on its core business.