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April 18, 2024
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California-based Joby Aviation says it is progressing well on the roadmap toward certification of its eVTOL. It has more or less completed three definition phases of the project and has now started the implementation phase which includes testing and analysis. The company, which reported a $-49.6 million net loss in Q2, still hopes to get certification in 2024. Joby Aviation enters next test phase.

Like more Advanced Air Mobility start-ups have done recently, Joby released a shareholder letter on August 11 with status updates and financials. After the FAA decided to change the certification pathway for eVTOLs from the Part 23 ‘small aircraft’ category to Part 21.17 ‘powered lift’ vehicles, Joby had to revise the certification basis of its vehicle that had already been completed in 2020. This caused only a minor delay.

An incident with its first prototype in mid-February caused a four-week interruption of flight tests in California. Joby hasn’t shared any details of the incident, but it is believed the remotely piloted vehicle received extensive or complete damage when it came down from 1.200 feet at high speed. Flight testing resumed in late March with the second pre-production prototype, which first flew in January.

Despite the incident, Joby says that the FAA is 74 percent complete with checking if the design complies with safety rules, with 37 percent of the certification plans and paperwork also complete. Joby has now entered Phase 4, which includes the test and analysis but also conformity tests of materials. The first of these tests began in February. Phase 4 is the penultimate phase before certification, which Joby wants to secure in the US as well as in the UK. That’s why it requested the CAA to validate the type certificate of the FAA. Assembly of the first four-seater production vehicle, which started in Q1, is progressing well, with the tail complete and work done on the fuselage and wing.

Q2 net loss $-49.6 million

Joby reported a $-49.6 million net loss for Q2 compared to $-65 million in the same quarter of last year. The operating loss was $-99.4 million, up from $-68.4 million. Joby says the higher operating loss reflects higher operating expenses, “primarily reflecting higher personnel and material spending to support our development and certification activities, early manufacturing operations, initial investments in commercialization, and administrative costs to support scaling as a public company. Higher operating expenses also reflect stock-based compensation, including performance-based incentives introduced in 2022, and depreciation and amortization.”

R&D costs were $74.2 million and reflect certification costs. Adjusted EBITDA was $-74.1 million versus $-57.4 million, caused primarily by higher employee, development, manufacturing, and certification costs. For HY1, Joby reported a $-111.9 million loss compared to $-106.5 million in 2021. The operating loss was $193.7 million, up from $-114.2 million. Cash spent was $134 million until July. For the full year, cash spending is guided between $320-$340 million, slightly below the previous guidance thanks to operational efficiencies.

Joby Aviation says it has a strong liquidity position, with $1.2 billion in cash, cash equivalents, restricted cash, and marketable securities. It still benefits from an $820 million capital raise in January 2020 that was led by Toyota Motor Corporation. In February, Joby announced an intended merger with Reinvent Technology Partners that should generate $1.6 billion in cash proceeds, including $910 million from a PIPE transaction with The Baupost Group. 

As Joby intends to deploy its eVTOLs itself as part of an on-demand, aerial ridesharing service and doesn’t offer them for sale, there is no known order backlog. 

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Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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