Joby's electric air taxi moves a step closer to flying passengers by 2025

It has obtained a Special Airworthiness Certificate from the FAA and is scheduled for testing at Edwards Air Force Base next year.
Ameya Paleja
Joby's first eVTOL off the production line
Joby's first eVTOL off the production line

Joby Aviation 

Santa Cruz, California, based Joby Aviation has moved closer to becoming the first-ever company to fly passengers in air taxis. The company-made electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft will be delivered to its first customer early next year, a press release said.

Founded in 2009, Joby Aviation has spent nearly a decade building and developing its eVTOL offering and bringing it within touching distance of a commercial launch. The company developed a full-scale demonstrator in 2017, and its pre-production prototype launched in 2019 has flown over 30,000 miles so far.

During this period, a lot of companies have shown promise while some have also fallen by the wayside, but Joby has braved the strong winds and powered through setbacks before reaching its current high. Recently the company received a Special Airworthiness Certificate for the first aircraft built at its pilot production line.

Joby's production eVTOL

In its latest feat, Joby's aircraft may not appear drastically different from its prototype or what it has been flying in the past few years. For those who are still new to the world of eVTOLs, this might look like a helicopter on steroids at first glance.

The sheer number of propellers on this aircraft is courtesy of electric motors that fail to generate the thrust anywhere close to a jet engine. Having said that, they also do not generate any emissions during operations, making them an ideal fit for the futuristic world looking to wean itself away from fossil fuels.

The lack of major design overhauls also means that there is little left for Joby to perfect after decades of work, and air taxis could soon be a reality.

Flying with the Air Force

Joby built its production prototype at its facility in Marina, California, in line with the quality management demanded by the FAA to begin commercial operations. With an eye on commercial operations by 2025, Joby looks to be systematically ticking all the boxes necessary to make this possible.

Although it says "experimental," the airworthiness certificate in hand allows Joby to further test the flying capacity of its aircraft, something that leads to the powertrain and electronics Jon Wagner plans to do extensively.

Another milestone for the company will be completed next year when the prototype production aircraft reaches Edwards Air Force Base for further testing. Joby will deliver its first eVTOL to the Edwards Air Force Base as part of the Agility Prime contract with the US Air Force.

Through the program, the military will help Joby extensively test its eVTOL while exploring potential use cases for the armed forces. The eVTOL will be used to move people and goods around military bases next year.

If all goes well, we will see it in action ferrying passengers of Delta Airlines to and from the airport. Hopefully, the FAA would have agreed on the licensing requirements of eVTOL pilots by then.

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