The Flying Cars in Your Future

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird… It’s a plane… No! It’s… your neighbor’s new and extremely annoying flying car!

Get used to it because whether you like it or not, there are flying cars in your future.

But not over your house, right? Well, technically you may or may not have rights to the airspace above your dwelling, but in the US, for example, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines these rights as extending up to the lowest safe flying altitude, and this ceiling is going to drop considerably as flying cars become a reality.

Most of them are not technically “cars” in any conventional sense, even if you could perhaps drive them on the road. Most of them look like parts of a food processor or a helicopter on steroids. Here is a sample: 12 Flying Cars You Can Actually Buy. The hoverbikes are also clearly not cars, though they are undoubtedly high-adrenaline experiences. Only a few really look or behave a bit like cars. See the Alef Model A, for example, which has received a Special Airworthiness Certification from the FAA. “That means the company will be able to test out their Model A on the ground and in the skies.”

In fact, we have had working flying cars longer than you might think.

One ingenious design from the 1970s, the Taylor Aerocar III, bolted a wing and tail carapace onto a car body and was fully capable of flight. But somehow it never caught on. One reason is regulation.

Clearly, government bodies such as the FAA realize the distinct threat of disruption these dream (or nightmare) innovations may have on traffic and society in general. In a recent Concept of Operations document the FAA lays out design parameters for how a system governing flying cars’ travel should evolve to take all parties’ interests into account. Clearly, the FAA expects evolution not only in the physical flying machines themselves but in their control systems. The document introduces modes such as “Human-Within-the-Loop (HWTL)” where the human pilot is always in control… but not necessarily in the vehicle… versus “Human-on-the-Loop (HOTL)” where the human pilot exercises purely supervisory control over otherwise automated systems, etc. Yes, it’s the autopilot of science fiction.

Furthermore, the Concept of Operations foresees corridors of travel for these vehicles (three-dimensional volumes of air similar to those used by current aircraft) as well as the need for on- and off- “ramp” rules to guide access and egress from these lanes in the air. Nevertheless, approving official regulations could still take a decade which might give manufacturers time to reduce flying cars’ current price tags (which range from $150,000 to $1 million-plus) to a more affordable, mass-market level à la Volkswagen in the 1950s and their unmistakable Beetle.

How do consumers feel about flying cars? One US survey found that males aged about 30 with at least a high school education were most informed on the subject. No surprises there. Otherwise there seems to be little quantitative information available on public attitudes.

But do we really need flying cars?

The pros include:

  • efficient urban mobility
  • sustainability: reduced emissions
  • potential economic opportunity
  • overcoming congestion
  • increasing transportation access
  • expanding rapid emergency response options

The cons include:

  • infrastructure requirements (especially air traffic management and systems)
  • implementing a fair and reliable regulatory framework
  • safety and reliability challenges
  • noise pollution
  • cybersecurity [See source]

Another driver of change may be simplifying air travel:

“Imagine flying your family car from the suburbs of an East Coast city to Florida for your next vacation in less time than it would take you to go to the airport, get through security, wait for your departure, fly, land, collect your luggage and rent an earthbound car?” [See source.]

Such a scenario cuts out the airline, their pilots, cabin crews, ground staff, their caterer, the security personnel, the rental car company, and all the retail and restaurant companies located in the airport. Needless to say, this would produce a major upheaval in the travel market were it ever to come to mass implementation.

Initially, a “more likely scenario is the use of air taxis in densely populated areas like central London or New York City at peak commute times.” [See source.] In this scenario, cities would set rules for safe provision of flying car services under the regulations eventually approved by the relevant national (or international) aviation authority.

How will all of this change the executive employment market?

The demand for specific skills will evolve. Take the impact of electric vehicles on car engineering, for example. Suddenly, engineers who design and refine internal combustion engines, drive trains, transmissions, etc. are no longer required. Just as the 130,000 horses and their caretakers in early 20th century New York found themselves out of work as the automobile took hold.

Fortunately, innovation also expands career options.

Investment in the flying car industry promises to create thousands of jobs. For example: “Joby Aviation Inc. is set to revolutionize Dayton’s aviation legacy with a $500 million investment to build electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, commonly termed as “flying cars.” This pioneering venture, near Dayton International Airport, aims to create 2,000 jobs by 2028 […]” [See source.] And Joby will not be alone: “The global flying cars market is projected to grow from $255.37 million in 2022 to [$1.5 trillion] in 2040 at a CAGR of 58.1% in [the] forecast period.” [See source.]

By the way, what is it actually like to pilot a flying car? Will everyone be able to manage it? Here’s one intrepid reporter’s experience training for and then actually flying the “BlackFly” including the view from the cockpit. See the video. It’s worth it. [See source.]

In short, this industry is likely to take off soon and if yours cannot boast similar growth rates, you might want to consider changing horses, so to speak.

What, you have no experience in flying cars?

Well, relatively few people do at the moment. For example, LinkedIn currently cites more than 17,000 help-wanted ads for executives with flying car experience in the past year although fewer than one thousand execs actually list this skill on their LinkedIn profiles. The demand is broad and highly international. There is even a flying car “driving” school in the Netherlands. In Abu Dhabi, “early next year” well-heeled travelers will be able to cut the time to the airport significantly traveling by flying car. Another purveyor plans to offer test flights in Florida and Texas this spring. [See source.]

The future begins in the present. How can you tap into this burgeoning market?

The Barrett Group will help you inventory your transferable skills and package yourself so that you have a very realistic chance of changing into this or virtually any other industry that suits your fancy. That is what we do and have been doing for 30 years and more—helping executives clarify their career targets and then develop and implement a personal strategic plan to achieve them. Our services are internationally recognized and Forbes rates us among the best in the industry.

Isn’t it time you rethought your professional future? Whether in the flying car industry or any other branch, The Barrett Group can help your career truly take off. Let’s talk.

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