The Air Force plans to test and train with the electric aerial vehicles based at MacDill and in the surrounding area

Chuck Martin, Editorial Director AI & IoT

March 20, 2024

3 Min Read
Joby Aviation

Flying taxi company Joby Aviation plans to deliver two of its flying vehicles to MacDill Air Force Base for use by the U.S. Force.

This is part of a $163 million contract Joby signed with the Department of Defense (DoD) AFWERX Agility Prime program. Joby has been working with the DoD since 2016 when it received early military funding for its development program.

MacDill is located on the southernmost tip of Tampa on the west coast of Florida, which juts out into Tampa Bay.

The base is home to the U.S. Special Operations Command, the U.S. Central Command and units from the Air Mobility Command. 

The Air Force plans to test and train with the electric aerial vehicles (EAV) based at MacDill and in the surrounding area starting in 2025.

Tampa has been EAV-friendly, recently hosting German EAV-maker Volocopter, which conducted demonstration flights at Tampa International Airport.

“The early investment and vision by the U.S. government in this critical technology is proving foundational as we continue our path toward commercial passenger service,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby. “We’re looking forward to working with units at MacDill Air Force Base as we further explore the potential use cases for our aircraft, demonstrating its capabilities in realistic settings.”

Related:Flying Taxi Deal Signed for Dubai as Mideast Takes the Lead

Last year, Joby delivered its first EAV to Edwards Air Force Base in California with a second flying vehicle expected for this year. 

Joby received military airworthiness approval for its pre-production prototype aircraft in 2020.

At MacDill, the flying vehicles are expected to be used for testing for personnel transport, casualty evacuation and security force support.

Outside of U.S. operations, Joby recently agreed with the Dubai Road and Transport Authority to launch an air taxi service in Dubai.

That deal gives the EAV maker exclusive rights to operate flying taxis in Dubai for six years, with other Mideast ventures planning to bring other flying vehicles to the United Arab Emirates region.

For example, Archer Aviation and Air Chateau International recently signed a deal for the private aviation operator to purchase EAVs to be operated in the UAE.

That deal calls for Archer to sell 100 of its flying vehicles in a deal valued at $500 million.

The deal included a non-refundable deposit of $1 million with the investment group Acorn Capital as the financial transaction partner.

In addition to U.S. EAV developers creating operations in the UAE, a Chinese flying vehicle developer also is involved.

EHang Holdings in China, the only EAV maker certified for passenger-carrying vehicle operations, has signed a long-term strategic partnership with Wings Logistics Hub to introduce EHang's autonomous EAV to the UAE.

Related:Flying Taxi Deal Signed; $500M for 100 Flying Vehicles for UAE

Wings Logistics Hub plans to purchase up to 100 units of the EH216 series EAV from EHang.

An EAV maker in Germany also is involved in selling EAVs into the region. 

The developer of an EAV jet is selling 10 of its air taxi jets to a company for sale in the Middle East.

ArcosJet DMCC is purchasing 10 Lilium EAVs and becoming the exclusive dealer for its private jets in the region.

Another 100 Lilium electric jets are planned for Saudi Arabia.

Saudia, the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, and Lilium signed a memorandum of understanding for Saudia to develop and operate an eVTOL network across Saudi Arabia. 

This would make Saudia the first airline in the region to purchase 100 Lilium jets with annual support services.

While electric aerial vehicles are being developed around the world, the Middle East has emerged as the leading location globally for the initial growth of the advanced air mobility (AAM) industry.

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Related:Flying Taxi Company Sells 10 Electric Jets; Customers in Mideast

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About the Author(s)

Chuck Martin

Editorial Director AI & IoT

Chuck Martin, author of "Flying Vehicles," New York Times Business Bestselling author and futurist, is Editorial Director at Informa Tech, home of AI Business, IoT World Today and Enter Quantum. Martin has been a leader in emerging digital technologies for more than two decades. He is considered one of the foremost emerging technology experts in the world and his latest book title "Flying Vehicles" (The Emergence of Personal Air Travel, Flying Cars, and Air Taxis) followed "Digital Transformation 3.0" (The New Business-to-Consumer Connections of The Internet of Things).  He hosts a worldwide podcast titled “The Voices of the Internet of Things with Chuck Martin,” where he converses with top executives from the companies driving the adoption of emerging technology.

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