California-based Joby Aviation has received the green light from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and U.S. Air Force to begin flight testing its second eVTOL aircraft prototype.
The eVTOL developer confirmed today that it received an FAA special airworthiness certificate, as well as airworthiness approval from the U.S. Air Force for its second air taxi in December. It’s a development that the company hopes will help advance Joby’s flight test campaign this year, and bring the eVTOL developer one step closer to obtaining FAA certification and launching passenger services in 2024.
Joby claims the first pre-production prototype flew more than 5,300 miles (8,530 kilometers) last year, including what the company believes was the longest flight of a full-scale eVTOL aircraft to date — at 154.6 mi (248.8 km) on a single charge.
“Our 2021 flight test program delivered a wealth of information and experience to support our program,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby, in a press release. “With two aircraft flying at the same time, we’ll be able to increase the speed of our learnings as planned.”
Joby’s second prototype is expected to start flying later this month, and will be used as part of the Agility Prime Program, the Air Force’s initiative to accelerate development of the eVTOL industry.
Last month, Joby also made progress in expanding its advanced in-house research and development capacity when it acquired radar developers Inras GmbH — a five-person company from Linz, Austria. The eVTOL developer said the acquisition will support the development of purpose-built radar systems for its onboard sensing and navigation.
Joby began flying prototypes in 2017, revealing its S4 eVTOL aircraft in January 2020. The company has since carried out more than 1,000 flight tests with its various models.
In 2020, Joby became the first eVTOL company to sign a G-1 (stage 4) certification basis with the FAA. The company is intent on becoming the first eVTOL developer to get its five-seat air taxi certified with the FAA through the existing Part 23 regulations for a traditional airplane.
Bevirt had previously said that since founding the company, Joby had certification, pilot training, and operation in mind, designing its aircraft with a targeted range of 150 mi (241 km) on a single charge, and a top speed of 200 mph (322 km/h).