The US Air Force’s (USAF) AFWERX Agility Prime team announced that it has reached several milestones for the ‘flying car’ programme.

The programme, which aims to create a market for electric flying cars, will see its first major tests early next year.

Joby Aviation’s four-passenger S4 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft prototype design was awarded the first airworthiness approval by the USAF.

This milestone will allow the Joby aircraft to fly under the USAF contract in early 2021.

Joby Aviation CEO JoeBen Bevirt said: “Our partnership with AFWERX and the Air Force has been transformative.

He also added that the Agility Prime “programme has given us access to facilities, resources and equipment that accelerated testing and allowed us to prove out the reliability and performance of our aircraft”.

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The USAF noted that Joby Aviation and BETA Technologies were the first partner firms to further the advancement in the ‘Agility Prime Air Race’.

In August, Agility Prime demonstrated the developments in the electric vertical take-off and landing flight (eVTOL).

The USAF has plans to field the vehicles or ORBs in 2023.

In addition, a ground-breaking ceremony for a simulation facility, as well as a “ribbon-cutting ceremony” for the electric aircraft charging station took place at Ohio’s Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

The facility will be used to conduct experiments by those operating in the field ranging from the researcher to the operator.

The milestones were announced during the inaugural five-day AFWERX Accelerate event that was held virtually earlier this month.

Air Mobility Command commander general Jacqueline Van Ovost said: “For the Air Force, specifically Air Mobility Command, Agility Prime has the potential to bring next generation agility to movement, delivery, sustainment and air medical evacuation to the battlespace.

“But Agility Prime also has direct applications across the civilian sector: humanitarian aid and disaster response, aerial medical supply delivery, search and rescue, and wildfire suppression.”