Joby adds second eVTOL aircraft to flight test fleet

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Joby Aviation is on track to achieve FAA certification of its eVTOL aircraft within the next two years after finishing work on a second prototype for use in its flight testing campaign this year.

The company received airworthiness approval from the US Air Force for the second pre-production aircraft in December. The aircraft is expected to begin flying later this month and will be used for flight testing as part of Joby’s Agility Prime contract with the US Air Force.

Joby is one of the furthest forward companies developing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for use as passenger-carrying air taxis. The California-based firm, which was founded in 2009 plans to start operating its aircraft in 2024.

Joby’s S4 tilt-rotor aircraft can transport a pilot and four passengers up to 150 miles (240km) at speeds of up to 200mph (320km/h). The California-based company began flying full-scale prototypes in 2017 and has completed more than 1,000 flight tests to date.

The first pre-production prototype generated 65 terabytes of test data last year, flying more than 5,300 miles (8,500km), including what the company claims is the longest flight of an eVTOL aircraft to date at 154.6 miles (248.8km) on a single charge.

Joby said that the second aircraft will significantly accelerate flight testing this year and support its aim to certify its eVTOL aircraft with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) under by 2024.

JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby said, “Our 2021 flight test program delivered a wealth of information and experience to support our program. With two aircraft flying at the same time, we will be able to increase the speed of our learnings as planned, while continuing to fulfill the requirements of our Agility Prime contract.

“We’re grateful to the US Air Force for our ongoing relationship and support and to the FAA for continuing to foster innovation in the aviation industry.”

Joby has been working with the US Air Force for several years, most recently as part of its Agility Prime program set up to support the development of eVTOL aircraft for civil and military applications. This has included work to streamline certification requirements.

The US Air Force approval for the second aircraft was received shortly after the company received a special airworthiness certificate from the FAA for its eVTOL. Special airworthiness certification can cover the use of an aircraft for a variety of non-commercial purposes in the USA, from experimental and R&D to personal and sport.

In 2020, Joby signed a G-1 (stage 4) certification basis with the FAA, having received an initial (stage 2) signed G-1 from the FAA in 2019. The agreements establish a pathway for the certification of the S4 eVTOL aircraft under existing Part 23 Regulations using the addition of special conditions specific to its aircraft.

Joby said that it continues to make progress with the FAA on defining the means of compliance that will apply to its aircraft as it progresses with certification efforts.


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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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