Joby Aviation notches milestones toward production, certification

Company says it is assembling world’s first ‘company-conforming’ electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft

Joby Aviation aims to have an onboard pilot fly one of its electric aircraft for the first time by December, a key step in its plan to shift from remotely piloted experimental versions to the piloted versions that it will ask FAA to certify.

Notably, the pilot will fly one of the electric vertical takeoff and landing, eVTOL, aircraft the company is building under the quality management system it has established at its pilot factory in Marina, California. This aircraft, like the others Joby will build, must conform to the design the engineering team released to the manufacturing team.

Joby said in a press release that completing the first of these “company-conforming” aircraft will amount to “an important step on the path” to earning FAA type certification, something the company plans to achieve in time to start commercial passenger flights in 2025 with its four passenger-plus-pilot eVTOLs. The wing, tail and fuselage of this first aircraft are in the process of being joined together, and that will be followed by installation of wiring, electronics and its six rotors.

“We expect to see the first aircraft roll off from our pilot manufacturing line and fly within the first half of the year. We plan to fly with a pilot on board before the end of the year,” CEO and founder JoeBen Bevirt said during a Feb. 22 earnings call with analysts, investors and journalists. “2023 is going to be a pivotal year, not just for Joby but for our industry as a whole, as it is time to transition from planning to delivery.”

Completing the first company-conforming aircraft will be “a real moment of celebration for us, and not just because we get to see the aircraft come together. It’s the way in which we built this aircraft that separates it from any aircraft we’ve built previously,” Didier Papadopoulos, Joby’s head of aircraft original equipment manufacturing, said during the call, referring to the processes that FAA must approve for Joby to earn its production certificate.

Joby describes this aircraft as “the world’s first company-conforming” eVTOL.

As for type certification, Joby has demonstrated to FAA how it plans to comply with the agency’s standards, meaning it has completed the second stage of FAA’s five-stage process.

Papadopoulus added that the company has expanded its testing to include “structural wing tests, battery vibration tests, propeller bird strike tests and actuation system testing.”

FAA personnel review data from the testing, and Joby also employs several FAA Designated Engineering Representatives who are appointed by FAA and review and recommend data to the agency.

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Joby Aviation notches milestones toward production, certification