Aircraft

Joby Aviation agrees on eVTOL certification class with the FAA

Joby Aviation agrees on eVTOL ...
Joby Aviation has built and flight-tested its five-seat, six-rotor eVTOL air taxi
Joby Aviation has built and flight-tested its five-seat, six-rotor eVTOL air taxi
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Joby Aviation has built and flight-tested its five-seat, six-rotor eVTOL air taxi
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Joby Aviation has built and flight-tested its five-seat, six-rotor eVTOL air taxi
The Joby team is expanding rapidly
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The Joby team is expanding rapidly

eVTOL market leader Joby Aviation has announced its first revenue in a partnership with the US Air Force's Agility Prime program, as well as the path it's agreed on with the FAA for certifying its revolutionary tilt-rotor electric air taxi.

The US military doesn't just see electric VTOLs as a warfighting and logistics opportunity. The Agility Prime team makes the argument that American financial success in what's projected to be an enormous eVTOL air taxi market is itself a matter of national security.

It makes sense, then, to partner with Joby Aviation. Joby was one of the earliest companies on the eVTOL bandwagon, and appears at this stage to be leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else in the industry. Not only does it have massive financial and mass production resources at its beck and call thanks to a huge investment from Toyota, it also has a highly advanced six-rotor transitioning aircraft prototyped at full scale and more than 1,000 test flights completed. Indeed, Joby's machine is the first eVTOL ever to be awarded an airworthiness approval by the US Air Force.

Joby's deal with Agility Prime will bring in the first revenue in Joby Aviation's history, and give the company access to "key research facilities and equipment, as well as an opportunity to prove out the maturity and reliability of its aircraft years in advance of entering commercial service."

In return, Joby gives the US Government "valuable data and insight into the operation and performance of eVTOL aircraft," with the goal of helping the Agility Prime team identify "opportunities for early adoption" and build its understanding of how the eVTOL market will develop and expand, commercially and technologically.

The Joby team is expanding rapidly
The Joby team is expanding rapidly

Certification is the elephant in the room for every eVTOL company vying to get into the air taxi business. Nothing like an electric multirotor has ever been certified for commercial operation by the world's major aviation authorities, and regulations are still yet to be written by the likes of the FAA and EASA. So companies still don't know exactly what criteria they'll need to meet to get their aircraft approved.

But Joby now has a little extra clarity thanks to an agreement it's struck with the FAA. Joby's aircraft will be certified under the FAA's existing Part 23 requirements for small, normal category airplanes, with the addition of a "G1" set of special conditions "to address requirements specific to Joby's aircraft." The G1 special conditions, according to Joby, "are expected to be published in the US Federal Register in the coming months."

"While we still have several years of aircraft testing ahead of us, we now have a clearly defined, and achievable, path to certifying our aircraft and introducing customer flights," says Joby founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt. “Reaching this milestone is a watershed moment for our new industry and I’m tremendously grateful for the many years of hard work the FAA and our in-house aviation safety experts have put into getting us to this point.”

Source: Joby Aviation

6 comments
Daishi
With over 500 employees they are a pretty large company. The energy to weight ratio with current generation batteries mostly means if it's light enough to get more than a few feet off the ground with a person in it it lacks capacity to achieve significant distance. With a large enough battery to cover meaningful distance it's too heavy to fly with passengers. By the time we get battery technology that advanced the internal combustion automobile will be obsolete. If that were not a significant enough bet against the odds they have all the regulatory and certification requirements as well which I'm sure will be expensive and difficult even after they actually work out the technology. The FAA isn't going to certify something for safe human flight that can't fly with humans in it yet. They have already gone through $820 million in funding and they still have a long road ahead. What I don't get is that ultra-light helicopters and gyroplanes have existed for years that are reliable and inexpensive (< $20k) without market demand for for a short range transportation system based on them. I think the primary argument is that a VTOL doesn't need a runway so it's less infrastructure but there will still be dedicated VTOL airports as you can't just land anywhere. So even after they solve for battery technology and FAA certification they have the catch 22 that they will become useful once there are an abundance of VTOL airports that are more convenient than existing regional airports to use but until that happens (and it will be expensive) the opposite will still be true. Many existing airports will probably insist that a bunch of amateur VTOL pilots working for Uber come nowhere near their airspace and for very good reason. I think the company is unlikely to turn a profit from charging people for transportation anytime soon but it's possible that they could achieve paper value and sell the company to someone for a lot of money maybe. I wouldn't personally invest in eVTOL though. Even if Sisyphus eVTOL eventually succeeds the company that achieves popularity in the market might be the startup that someone creates in 2035 when the market is ready that doesn't have 4 billion in debt from being 15+ years too early. Even if they nail the aircraft battery technology is a force entirely outside of their control.
Towerman
EXCELLENT NEWS, It's been a while since i wanted to hear something from JOBY, and HERE it is, Thanks Loz this was great read.
Battery technology will advance in due time, in the meantime JOBY's EVTOL is ready for deployment with current batteries. Short distance hops is Perfect for getting this revolution going and letting people see how truly reliable their machine is. Lets get them in the Air soon ! ! !
guzmanchinky
To the naysayers: Battery tech is improving daily, with dozens of companies putting billions of dollars into quick charging and energy density problems. This is the future, internal combustion is old news and will be the stuff of museum exhibits someday soon...
Nelson Hyde Chick
These things are going to drastically increase the noise in the urban environment to just benefit the wealthy at the expense of the non wealthy.
Arcticshade
@Nelson Hyde Chick Not at all, there are noisier certified land and aircraft flying all over the world, it will be for everyday public, not for the rich.
PB
They say they have struck an agreement with the FAA to have it certified under Part 23 --- but the dream is to be air taxi, Jetson style, and that requires fare paying passengers which will put them under the complex Part 121 rules.
This promotion just makes no sense. Why have flaps, for example? It's VTOL so why do they need the weight of flaps? It makes no sense.