By Jen Nevans

Managing editor Jen Nevans has more than 10 years of editorial experience. She is an award-winning writer and editor, receiving numerous accolades for her published articles over the years. Jen is eager to join the eVTOL.com team and cover this exciting and growing industry.

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How Joby Aviation plans to be the first to receive FAA eVTOL certification

California-based Joby Aviation claims the company is on track to become the first eVTOL developer to receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) type certification in 2023.

Joby eVTOL certification
Joby Aviation designed its eVTOL aircraft to fit into the existing Part 23 regulations for a traditional airplane – a decision that Joby hopes will make it the first developer to receive FAA type certification in 2023. Joby Image

“We began engaging with [the FAA] almost a decade ago, and we did really valuable work with them in laying the path for [the advanced air mobility] industry,” said JoeBen Bevirt, CEO and founder of Joby, during a virtual briefing on Tuesday — the first of a number of planned events the company wants to hold as it works to launch its commercial air taxi service by 2024.

Since founding the company, Joby had certification, pilot training and operation in mind, designing its eVTOL aircraft to fit into the existing Part 23 regulations for a traditional airplane.

Its own head of government affairs, Greg Bowles, was part of rewriting the FAA’s Part 23 to modernize the legislation to enable new technology and innovation that would support the advanced air mobility sector — and by extension, Joby’s path to certification using those regulations. This means Joby doesn’t have to start from scratch with a new framework that aviation authorities have yet to develop.

“The work that has been done solidified our path [to certification], and this will benefit the broader aviation [industry] as well,” Bowles said. “As we continue forward, we’ll keep exercising thought leadership to ensure the safety and success of the industry.”

Joby applied for type certification in 2018, and was issued a G-1 certification basis in 2020, allowing the eVTOL developer to check off the first stage of the five-stage certification process. Joby is currently working through its means of compliance before getting its certification plans approved and conducting tests and analyses for FAA credit.

While there are key milestones that eVTOL developers need to reach before receiving the coveted type certification, Joby plans to tackle several stages in parallel with one another.

“We have been working internally on our certification plans for quite a while now,” said Didier Papadopoulos, head of programs and systems engineering at Joby, adding the developer will be ready to submit those plans when the means of compliance is dealt with. “Although we can’t begin to perform testing for FAA credit until those [certification] plans are accepted, we have been going through the development cycle, testing, refining, and retesting for the better part of a decade to build that confidence and maturity.”

Papadopoulos called this approach the “practice exam before the real one.” He said as Joby continues moving through the process, the company is more confident about meeting its overall program schedule of launching its eVTOL air taxi service by 2024.

Dan Elwell, former acting FAA administrator and now a member of Joby’s advisory board, also believes that timeline is attainable.

“I was very impressed by Joby’s approach to the certification of its aircraft long before I started working with them,” Elwell said. “The thought that has gone into the design of this aircraft — the simplicity of the design, the ease of operation — all those things give me great comfort in working with them.”

As an eVTOL developer that’s dedicated to vertical integration, Papadopoulos believes this model will give them an edge on the path to certification since all aircraft systems and components need to follow certification rules.

“It requires a lot of back and forth with the FAA, and this process can be accelerated quite a bit if it is all within the company,” Papadopoulos said. 

Along with manufacturing the aircraft, the company previously announced its plans to operate its own eVTOL commercial passenger service, and has started the process of obtaining a Part 135 air carrier certificate from the FAA. Joby also said it plans to develop its own flight academy to train pilots.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we also have a lot of work behind us,” Papadopoulos said. “We have the right aircraft for the market, the right certification path to get there, and an incredible engineering and certification team at Joby.”

Joby’s fully electric commercial aircraft will carry four passengers and a pilot, flying up to 150 miles (240 kilometers) on a single charge with a cruising speed of 200 mph (320 km/h).

This summer, the company confirmed its prototype successfully flew more than 150 mi (240 km) on a single charge, covering a distance of 154.6 mi (248.8 km). The aircraft was remotely piloted during the flight test.  

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2 Comments

  1. The article says:
    “With a persistent pilot shortage as air transport continues to grow, Joby says it will develop its own flight academy to train pilots and it has already submitted a Part 135 Air Taxi application to the FAA.”

    There is a lot of significance to that statement. It has the potential to be a big deal.

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