Joby Aviation, an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft company, reported today that it is broadening its flight test program. This expansion will now encompass flights with pilots onboard the aircraft, marking a significant advancement in the company's push toward commercial ventures.
Members of Joby’s flight test unit have recently completed piloting sessions on the firm's pre-production prototype. These preliminary trials involved free thrustborne hovers, as well as transitions into semi-thrustborne flight. All these tests were conducted at Joby's Pilot Production Facility located in Marina, CA. This complements the company's continuing flight evaluations at Edwards Air Force Base, which was publicized last month. At this location, Joby in conjunction with U.S. Air Force pilots will showcase the eVTOL's operational potential under realistic conditions.
Until this development, a substantial portion of Joby’s flight assessments were managed remotely via a ground control station (GCS), using sophisticated communication tools and software. This remote approach has equipped the company with an extensive dataset on the aircraft's behavior in various flight conditions.
James “Buddy” Denham, Joby's Chief Test Pilot, spearheaded the campaign that involved pilots onboard. This effort aims to gather insights on the aircraft's maneuverability and pilot control mechanisms, thereby aiding the aircraft's refinement. The data procured will also contribute to forthcoming "for credit" assessments, aligning with the company’s continuous certification process with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Denham commented on the aircraft’s design saying,
“Having participated in designing and testing controls for numerous aircraft, the Joby aircraft stands out due to its simplicity and elegance.”
Throughout these evaluations, pilots from Joby examined various standard operational tasks and movements, such as vertical takeoffs, acceleration into forward flight, runway centerline monitoring, and transitioning to vertical landings on specific landing platforms. This assessment of mission task elements (MTEs) will not only bolster the Joby aircraft's certification but will also be valuable for the company's ongoing collaborations with the Department of Defense.
Denham's inclusion in Joby in 2019, post his tenure with Naval Air Systems Command, brought in a wealth of knowledge. He boasts a rich background in the exploration, formulation, and testing of progressive flight controls across numerous aircrafts. His expertise has been pivotal in shaping the flight controls of the Joby eVTOL.
In a related development, Joby recently made public its plans to establish its premier large-scale aircraft manufacturing hub in Dayton, Ohio, aiming to produce up to 500 aircraft annually.