FAA certifies eVTOL by Joby Aviation to take to the skies

Toyota-backed electric aviation startup Joby Aviation has received a Special Airworthiness Certificate for its first pilot aircraft, allowing test flights to take off. The company expects its plane to become the first-ever eVTOL delivered to customers.

Said customer is the US Air Force. Joby is set to move the aircraft to the Edwards Air Force Base in 2024 and to operate it under the company’s Agility Prime contract with USAF, worth up to $131 million.

Joby cites a top speed of 200 miles per hour (322 kph) and a range of 150 miles (241 km) as key specifications for its model. The eVTOL is piloted and can seat another four passengers.

Joby adds it has been flying full-size aircraft since 2017, and its pre-production prototypes have flown more than 30,000 miles since 2019. Moving on to today’s production prototype, Joby said it marked another important step toward achieving FAA certification and production at scale.

So far, the company operates a pilot production line located in Marina, California. It is here where Toyota’s experience weighed in most heavily as the lines were designed with Toyota’s help to test the scalability of the low-volume machines and processes before scaling up production. The Japanese carmaker is Joby’s largest shareholder, having invested $400 million. Toyota and Joby also recently signed a long-term agreement to supply powertrain and actuation components. These are Joby-developed parts that Toyota manufactures on a contract basis.

Commenting on the involvement, Joe Ben Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby, said he was “incredibly grateful” to the team and Toyota for sharing their knowledge and experience over many years. “Their support has been indispensable in helping us reach this point.”

Toyota also underlined its commitment when sending Tetsuo “Ted” Ogawa, President and CEO of Toyota North America, to the Marina facility on the occasion of the latest FAA certification. Ogawa, who will also join Joby’s Board of Directors this July, congratulated the startup on reaching this milestone and said Toyota looked forward “to working ever more closely as Joby prepares to scale production and start operations”.

Joby Aviation plans to begin commercial passenger operations in 2025 and has a civilian partnership lined up. Said customer is Delta Airlines. Joby will work with Delta to offer customers an airlift to travel to and from airports. Gail Grimmett, Senior VP, Sustainability Performance and Strategic Partnerships at Delta, said the airline was “excited to march one step closer to offering this service to our customers”.

For now, the aircraft will undergo initial flight testing before being delivered to the Edwards Air Force Base to demonstrate a range of potential logistics use cases.



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