Joby Aviation, in an official statement, has announced a momentous milestone in its journey towards revolutionizing transportation. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has granted the company clearance to commence flight tests on its inaugural production prototype air taxi. This development propels Joby Aviation closer to its ambitious goal of delivering the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to customers by 2024, with the intent to inaugurate an extraordinary air taxi service by 2025. The aviation industry stands on the precipice of a groundbreaking transformation, as Joby Aviation surges forward in its pursuit of redefining urban mobility.
“The aircraft will now undergo initial flight testing before being delivered to Edwards Air Force Base, California, where it will be used to demonstrate a range of potential logistics use cases,” Joby wrote.
Employing a remarkable fusion of helicopter-like vertical takeoff and landing capabilities and airplane-like horizontal flight prowess, Joby Aviation’s pioneering air taxi showcases unparalleled versatility. Its six rotors facilitate seamless transitions between the two modes, enabling it to soar through the skies at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. Designed to accommodate a pilot and four passengers, this marvel of engineering can traverse distances of up to 100 miles on a single charge, making it aptly suited for a wide range of air taxi operations.
In a moment of triumph and progress, Joby Aviation proudly unveiled its inaugural production prototype, symbolizing a significant milestone in the company’s evolution. This remarkable achievement materialized within the confines of Joby’s assembly line situated in Marina, California. Notably, this cutting-edge facility stands as a testament to the fruitful collaboration between Joby and Toyota, with the latter emerging as Joby’s principal investor, contributing an impressive $394 million to the venture. Strengthening their symbiotic alliance, Joby announced the appointment of Toyota North America CEO, Tetsuo (Ted) Ogawa, to the esteemed position of board member.
With the acquisition of the FAA’s special airworthiness certificate, Joby gains the authority to conduct flight tests involving fully manufactured aircraft, subsequent to the trials carried out on full-scale prototypes initiated in 2017. In the previous year’s month of May, the company attained another critical authorization, namely the FAA’s Part 135 air carrier certificate, enabling it to engage in commercial operations. Recently, Joby formed a partnership with Delta Air Lines, facilitating convenient transportation to and from airports. Notably, their website showcases a scenario where one can traverse the distance from downtown NYC to JFK airport in a mere seven minutes, a striking contrast to the arduous 49-minute journey by car.
However, Joby still faces the most significant obstacle in its path: achieving full FAA type and production certification, which is necessary to transport paying passengers on commercial flights. According to Mike Hirschberg, an esteemed aerospace engineer and the director of the Vertical Flight Society, this milestone is likely to be reached approximately 18 months from now, as revealed in an interview with New Scientist. The United States Air Force stands as Joby’s inaugural client, engaging the company through a substantial $131 million contract as part of the military’s Agility Prime program. The slated deliveries for this contract are set to take place in the year 2024.
The progress made by Joby brings the company remarkably close to the realization of a genuine air taxi service, a goal that has proven elusive for many other manufacturers thus far. In the previous year, the Kittyhawk aircraft, which enjoyed support from Larry Page, ceased its operations. Additionally, other companies such as Ehang, Archer, Volocopter, and even Airbus have not advanced as far as Joby in this endeavor. Joby’s strides in this field stand out prominently, positioning them at the forefront of the race towards establishing a successful air taxi service.