October 4, 2023
After months of test flying eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicles remotely, pilots have now been added to the mix.
Joby Aviation has expanded its flight test program by adding pilots on the road to commercializing its electric air taxi.
Most of Joby’s electric aerial vehicles (EAV) had been piloted remotely from a ground control station.
The new testing with pilots took place at Joby’s pilot production facility in Marina, California.
Four test pilots completed a series of initial tests including free thrust-borne hovers and forward transitions to semi-thrust borne flight, according to the company.
Joby recently delivered the first eVTOL vehicle to the Air Force at the Edwards Air Force Base in California. The delivery is believed to be the first eVTOL taxi delivered in the U.S. and is part of a $131 million contract between the Department of Defense (DoD) and Joby.
Air Force and Joby pilots there are testing the aircraft’s capabilities in operating scenarios.
Joby recently selected Dayton, Ohio, as the location to build facilities to deliver up to 500 flying vehicles a year.
Dayton is where the Wright Brothers invented and flew the first powered aircraft and Joby expects construction at the 140-acre site to start in a few months and has enough land to build up to 2 million square feet of manufacturing space.
The new facility is the foundation for a planned aerial ride-sharing network. Joby has partnerships with Uber and Delta Air Lines.
Joby is one of the major EAV makers with significant financial backing, including from its long-term investor Toyota.
The Joby eVTOL can carry four passengers and a pilot and fly at speeds of 200 mph, with a maximum range of 100 miles.
This is one of the three major categories of EAVs. There are ultralights, which do not require a pilot license, smaller certified EAVs, which require a pilot license and commercial transport EAVs, such as those being created by Joby.
Some of the vehicles, the flying cars, are designed to fly as well as travel on roads. Those require certification both from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as the local motor vehicle department.
Joby plans to start an aerial ridesharing network around the world starting in 2025, building on its partnerships with Uber and Delta.
The military is involved in numerous eVTOL aircraft ventures.
For example, following aircraft electric charging stations being installed at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida by Beta Technologies, an electric aircraft is scheduled to be delivered there for testing.
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