Joby Aviation has received approval from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to commence flight tests for its inaugural production prototype air taxi, according to a press release by the company. This milestone represents a significant stride towards Joby’s goal of delivering the eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft to customers in 2024 and launching an air taxi service by 2025.
In its statement, Joby mentioned that the aircraft will undergo initial flight testing before being transported to Edwards Air Force Base in California. At the base, it will be employed to showcase various potential logistics applications.
The air taxi is capable of taking off and landing like a helicopter, but it can tilt its six rotors horizontally to fly like an airplane at speeds of up to 200 MPH. Designed to accommodate a pilot and four passengers, it can cover distances of up to 100 miles on a single charge, making it suitable for most air taxi operations. Additionally, Joby asserts that the aircraft operates in near silence during cruise mode and is 100 times quieter than conventional aircraft during takeoff and landing.
Joby’s initial production prototype was recently completed at its assembly line in Marina, California, as part of a collaboration with Toyota, the company’s largest investor holding a $394 million stake. In a move solidifying their partnership, Joby appointed Toyota North America CEO Tetsuo (Ted) Ogawa to its board of directors.
With the FAA’s issuance of a special airworthiness certificate, Joby can now conduct flight tests on its fully produced aircraft, following earlier trials with full-scale prototypes that commenced in 2017. Last year, the company obtained another critical permit, the FAA’s Part 135 air carrier certificate for commercial operations. Recently, Joby teamed up with Delta Air Lines to offer transportation to and from airports, showcasing a scenario on its website where a journey from downtown NYC to JFK airport takes a mere seven minutes compared to 49 minutes by car.
The next significant hurdle for Joby involves obtaining full FAA type and production certification, which is expected to take approximately 18 months before the company can transport paying passengers on commercial flights. Aerospace engineer and Vertical Flight Society director Mike Hirschberg conveyed to New Scientist that the first customer for Joby’s air taxi service would be the US Air Force under a $131 million contract as part of the military’s Agility Prime program, with deliveries scheduled for 2024.
Joby’s advancements position the company tantalizingly close to realizing a genuine air taxi service, an achievement that has eluded many other manufacturers thus far. Larry Page-backed Kittyhawk aircraft shut down last year, and companies such as Ehang, Archer, Volocopter, and even Airbus are not as far along in development compared to Joby. Joby CEO JoeBen Bevirt emphasized the significance of the first aircraft produced on their pilot manufacturing line, stating to TechCrunch, “This is a momentous milestone for the company.”
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about air taxi
What is Joby Aviation?
Joby Aviation is a company focused on developing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for the purpose of creating air taxi services. They have received FAA clearance for flight tests on their first production air taxi.
What is an air taxi?
An air taxi is a type of aircraft designed for short-distance travel, typically within urban areas. It can take off and land vertically like a helicopter and then transition to fly like an airplane. Air taxis are envisioned to provide quick and efficient transportation options in congested cities.
What is the significance of Joby Aviation receiving FAA clearance?
The FAA clearance allows Joby Aviation to conduct flight tests on their production air taxi, marking a major step towards their goal of launching a commercial air taxi service. It demonstrates that the aircraft has met the necessary safety and regulatory requirements for testing and potential future operations.
What are the features of Joby Aviation’s air taxi?
Joby Aviation’s air taxi can carry a pilot and four passengers, offering a range of up to 100 miles on a single charge. It can achieve speeds of up to 200 MPH and operates quietly during cruise mode. The aircraft combines vertical takeoff and landing capabilities with the efficiency of airplane-like flight.
When can customers expect to use Joby Aviation’s air taxi service?
Joby Aviation aims to start shipping their air taxis to customers in 2024 and launch the air taxi service by 2025. However, full FAA type and production certification, as well as additional regulatory approvals, are still required before commercial flights with paying passengers can commence.