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FAA allows Workhorse Surefly personal helicopter drone to fly at CES2018

Workhorse’s Surefly personal helicopter drone was first shown to the public during the Paris Air Show in June of 2017. Now we have learned that Workhorse has received an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly their personal drone during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next week.

The Surefly is a hybrid octocopter that can carry two passengers. The aerial vehicle can be flown manually with a joystick. Something that should be as easy as flying a DJI drone, according to Workhorse. Or it can be flown in a fully autonomous (drone) mode using sense-and-avoid technology to bring its passengers safely to their destination. A 4-cylinder gasoline engine charges the batteries, which in turn power the electric motors for the eight propellers. The personal helicopter has a range of 70 miles and can lift 400 lbs. The rotor arms can be folded as shown in the photos below.

Safety first was Surefly’s main objective

The main focus point while developing the Surefly has been safety, says Patrick Conners from Workhorse. In case of engine failure, the batteries provide enough power to bring the personal helicopter down safely from 4,000 feet altitude. If the batteries were to fail as well than a ballistic parachute can be deployed to bring the Surefly safely back to earth. It also features a crumple zone to protect the people inside the aircraft.

The goal was to make the Surefly both safer and more affordable than traditional helicopters. The Surefly from Workhorse will be priced below $200,000 USD. Falling carbon fiber and battery costs have allowed Workhorse to bring down the price of the personal helicopter.

The FAA has approved Workhorse’s Surefly personal helicopter drone to fly during the CES event. We are curious to see next week whether Workhorse will allow members of the press or public to test fly this exciting drone. Workhorse expects to receive a full FAA approval sometime in 2019.

The competition is heating up

Of course, Workhorse is not alone in the personal helicopter drone space. Other competitors include the Volocopter, which had its first flight in Dubai recently. The Ehang 184 personal drone and the Autonomous Passenger drone. The main difference between these three aerial vehicles and the Surefly from Workhorse is that fact that the latter is not only powered by electricity but offers a hybrid solution, using both gasoline and electricity to improve safety.

Photos and video of the Surefly

Other CES 2018 news


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Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo