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Thu, Oct 05, 2023

Crewed Flight Testing of Joby eVTOL Underway

Six Rotors Turning

Joby Aviation, the Toyota-backed designer and builder of electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, has commenced crewed flight-testing of its eVTOL prototype.

To date, four members of Joby’s flight test team have piloted the company's pre-production aircraft, collectively completing a series of initial tests which comprised, in part, thrust-borne hovers and forward transitions to semi-thrust-borne flight.

The testing was undertaken at the Joby’s Pilot Production Facility in Marina, California and complemented ongoing flight testing of the platform currently being conducted at Edwards Air Force Base, where both Joby and USAF pilots are vetting the contraption’s capabilities under realistic operating conditions.

Prior to the advent of crewed testing, the entirety of Joby’s test-flights had been piloted remotely from a Ground Control Station (GCS) using state-of-the-art communications and computer technologies. Unmanned operations permitted Joby engineers to garner vast sums of data germane to the eVTOL’s performance across a comprehensive range of flight-conditions.

Joby’s crewed flight-testing campaign has been led by company chief pilot James “Buddy” Denham, who’s methodically assessed the prototype eVTOL’s handling characteristic and pilot control interfaces, thereby laying the groundwork for near-future for credit aircraft testing under the provisions of the certification program agreed to by Joby and the FAA.

Mr. Denham stated: “Having helped design and tested flight controls for a wide variety of aircraft, including all three variants of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, nothing compares to the simplicity and grace of the Joby aircraft. After completing more than four-hundred vertical take-offs and landings from the ground, it is a privilege to sit in the cockpit of our aircraft and experience first-hand the ease and intuitive nature of the design that the Joby team has developed.”

During flight-testing, Joby pilots assessed the prototype eVTOL’s ability to execute vertical takeoffs, transition to aerodynamic flight, track runway centerline, and transitioning back to rotor-borne flight in preparation for vertical landing. Evaluation of the described Mission Task Elements (MTE) will support certification of the aircraft and inform Joby’s ongoing work with the Department of Defense.

Joby aspires to see its eVTOL enter commercial, passenger-carrying service in 2025. Unlike competing eVTOL concerns, which look to sell their respective aircraft to airlines, leasing firms, and logistics companies, Joby plans to mass-produce its eVTOL and utilize a fleet of such to operate a piloted, on-demand air-taxi service—after the fashion of a ride-share app.

Upon FAA certification of its eVTOL, Joby will compete in a crowded market with rival developers the likes of Archer Aviation, Lilium, and Vertical Aerospace Ltd—the lot of which seek to spearhead a revolution in urban transportation.

Presuming development proceeds apace, Joby’s eVTOL will come to market a piloted, four-passenger commercial aircraft with a single-charge range of 130-nautical-miles and a maximum speed of 174-knots. The electrically-powered, ostensibly zero-emission machine is designed to be one-hundred-times quieter than a conventional helicopter during takeoff and landing.

FMI: www.jobyaviation.com

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