In a significant milestone for Joby Aviation, the developer of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, has made an early delivery of its first air taxi to Edwards Air Force Base, ahead of the projected 2024 delivery date.
This delivery positions Joby as leader in delivering electric air taxis to the U.S. Air Force and possibly the first to achieve such a delivery in the United States. The aircraft is set to serve various logistic missions within the base, handling both cargo and passenger transport, and will be operated by U.S. Air Force personnel and Joby’s team. This integration comes as part of Joby’s $131 million contract with the Department of Defense (DOD).
The arrival of the aircraft at Edwards AFB is anticipated to showcase its versatility in practical mission settings, testing its capabilities and providing the Department of Defense invaluable insights into the performance of eVTOL aircraft. Maj Phillip Woodhull remarks, “This marks the beginning of a new phase in Edwards’ extensive aerospace history.” He emphasized the importance of this partnership in testing and assessing this technology for potential national defense applications.
In addition to the U.S. Air Force, NASA is also investing in the research and exploration of this technology, aiming to understand how these aircraft could integrate into the national airspace and progress the Advanced Air Mobility industry. Wayne Ringelberg, a NASA research pilot, noted that NASA’s involvement in this project would offer researchers a detailed perspective on eVTOL vehicles and contribute to the overall progress of the eVTOL industry, focusing on aspects like autonomy, handling qualities evaluation tools, and airspace integration.
JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby, expressed pride in joining the illustrious line-up of revolutionary aircraft to have been tested at Edwards Air Force Base. He emphasized the pivotal role of the DOD and NASA in accelerating the development of electric aviation and eVTOL aircraft. He remarked,
“Their collaborative efforts underline the potential of successful public-private partnerships in fast-tracking the development of new technology.”
Joby's partnership with the DOD stems from its 2016 interaction with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), which provided early funding and resources, aiding its developmental program. Col Elliott Leigh highlighted that the delivery of Joby’s aircraft is crucial in achieving the operational capability of transformative vertical lift in the Department of Defense by 2023.
With a top speed of 200 mph and a range exceeding 100 miles, Joby’s aircraft is designed to transport a pilot and four passengers efficiently, quietly, and emission-free. The company is scheduled to deliver a second aircraft in early 2024 and is set to launch commercial passenger service in 2025. This collaboration and subsequent developments underscore the continuous commitment of the U.S. government and private entities like Joby Aviation in nurturing and adopting eVTOL technology, promising a new era in electric aviation.