eVTOL Aircraft: Joby Aviation

eVTOL aircraft have the ability to transform the way we travel. This innovative solution will enable up to four passengers to travel short distances, in an aircraft which is free from emissions and quieter than conventional aircraft. Joby Aviation are pioneers in this field. From humble beginnings in 2009 at “The Barn” in the mountains of Santa Cruz, they developed an eVTOL prototype. Today, they have a world-class manufacturing facility in Marina, CA and workshops in the United States and Germany. In 2020, they achieved “G-1” certification for their aircraft which has created a roadmap for commercial flights as soon as 2024.

As part of our Sustainability month, we were excited to speak to them, and learn more about their aircraft and their plans for the next few years.

For those that are unfamiliar with the concept of eVTOL, please could you describe what it is?

An eVTOL aircraft uses electric power to take off and land vertically (VTOL). In addition to its VTOL characteristics, Joby’s aircraft can also transition to forward flight on the wing. This can occur because the aircraft’s rotors can tilt from a vertical to a horizontal position. Being able to fly on the wing like a traditional airplane makes an eVTOL aircraft very efficient and allows it to fly further distances and at faster speeds.

What are the main benefits of eVTOL aircraft over conventional light aircraft or helicopters?

One of the most evident benefits of an all-electric aircraft is that it produces zero-operating emissions. This is not only critical for tackling climate change, but it also saves on fuel costs. Joby’s aircraft is 100 times quieter than a helicopter at take-off and nearly silent when flying overhead. This translates to a more pleasant ride for passengers and significant noise reduction for those on the ground. In addition, electric motors require fewer mechanical parts which translates to lower maintenance costs and reduced maintenance downtime.

What is the range and speed of your aircraft?

The maximum range of the aircraft is 150 miles and it will fly at speeds up to 200 miles per hour.

Who is the main market for eVTOL?

Joby’s vision is to create an aerial ridesharing service that saves a billion people an hour a day. Our vision is of a service that is accessible to all. With air taxis, people can live where they choose and choose where they work. 

How much is a trip likely to cost each passenger?

Over time, the cost of a trip on a Joby aircraft per passenger is expected to be on par with an UberX.

What are the likely timeframes for eVTOL to be approved and rolled out internationally?

Joby settled on the design configuration of its aircraft in 2015 and began a formal certification program in 2018. In 2020, Joby became the first eVTOL manufacturer to agree to a ‘G-1’ certification basis for its aircraft with the FAA. This agreement lays out the blueprint that must be met by Joby’s aircraft in order for it to be certified.

The aircraft is anticipated to be certified in 2023. Joby is targeting commercial operations to start in 2024.

What does Joby Aviation have planned for the next 5 years?

Joby is squarely focused on certification of the aircraft, initial aircraft production, and preparing for go to market and commercialization.  

What is the one thing that people aren’t talking enough about, but really should be?

Many people probably don’t realize that the regulatory and operational system is ready to support these new electric aircraft in the national airspace right now. Air taxi services can offer forward-thinking cities a new mode of transportation without the immediate need for new regulation or infrastructure, using more than 5,000 public helipads and runways across the US. Over time, as the number of these flights increases, communities can easily create more places to take off and land — perhaps as simple as the roof of a parking garage.

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