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June 19, 2024
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Joby Aviation has been granted permission by the FAA to start test-flying its first production prototype aircraft. The eVTOL maker has received a Special Airworthiness Certificate. After some initial test flights, the aircraft will be delivered to Edwards Air Force Base in California for a number of demonstration flights with the US Air Force. Joby gets permission to start test-flying production aircraft.

This specific aircraft it’s the first to have been assembled on Joby’s Pilot Production Line in Marina (California). Later on Wednesday, Joby would officially launch the production of the full-electric aircraft.

The line has been designed in close cooperation with Toyota, which has acted as a consultant and is Joby’s biggest shareholder with a $400 million investment since 2019. In April, Joby announced that Toyota would also supply the electric powertrain and actuation components for the fixed-wing vehicle. Toyota Motor North America President and CEO Tetsuo Ogawa attended the production launch as a special guest. Ogawa will join the Board of Directors of Joby on July 1.

“We’re proud to have launched production in our home state of California. I’m incredibly grateful to the Joby team for their commitment to ensuring Joby remains the clear leader in this new sector and to Toyota for sharing their knowledge and experience with us over many years. Their support has been indispensable in helping us reach this point,” CEO and founder JoeBen Bevirt said in a media statement.

A map showing the wider region of New York. The circle shows the maximum range of the Joby with current battery technology, but this will change when more powerful batteries become available. (Joby Aviation)

The test flights at Edwards Air Force are part of the Agility Prime contract with the US Air Force, of which an extension was announced in April. Under a $131 million contract, Joby will deliver nine eVTOLs to the Air Force to evaluate their use for passenger and cargo operations. The first two aircraft will be delivered in 2024, including the production prototype. Joby says this will be the first eVTOL to be delivered to a customer.

A year later in 2025, Joby hopes to have received certification and launch commercial services with Delta Air Lines in Los Angeles and New York with four passengers and a pilot. Joby identified not only shuttle flights within the urban areas but says that the aircraft with the current battery technology will be very suitable on routes of up to 100 miles in the wider region.

Joby shared various details of the specifications of the production version today, including a Maximum Take-Off Weight of around 5.300 pounds, a payload of 1.000 pounds, 236-kilowatt peak power for each of the four electromotors that weigh just 28 kilograms, and the use of direct drive to deliver the power without any gears. The 235-Watthour per kilogram batteries at pack level should be able to do 10.000+ cycles until replacement.

author avatar
Richard Schuurman
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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