Air Taxi

Joby’s New ANA, SK Telecom Partnerships Will Introduce Air Taxis in Japan and South Korea

By Jessica Reed | February 15, 2022
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Joby Aviation will work with ANA HOLDINGS to bring eVTOL operations to Japan. (Photo: Joby Aviation)

This week, Joby Aviation and ANA HOLDINGS—parent company of All Nippon Airways (ANA)—announced their joint efforts to establish aerial ridesharing services in Japan. The collaboration includes infrastructure development, air traffic management, pilot training, and meeting regulatory requirements to begin operations with Joby’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle. Toyota Motor Corporation will join the efforts to explore integration with ground transportation.

ANA, the largest airline in Japan, has operated for 70 years and will bring significant operational experience to this partnership. Koji Shibata, Representative Director and Executive Vice President at ANA HD, commented on the opportunity in the announcement: “Our customers value efficiency very highly, so being able to provide them with the option to travel rapidly—and sustainably—from an international airport to a downtown location is very appealing.”

Joby’s all-electric eVTOL will deliver emissions-free air taxi services with a low noise profile for journeys of up to 150 miles. The vehicle’s top speed is 200 mph, meaning that the 31-mile trip from Osaka Station to Kansai International Airport, which would take an hour by car, could be completed in less than 15 minutes in Joby’s eVTOL.

Japan offers an ideal market for urban air mobility (UAM) operations, explained Joby CEO JoeBen Bevirt. “92% of the population [lives] in urban areas and Tokyo [is registered] as one of the top 20 most congested cities in the world. We look forward to working closely with ANA to bring our aerial ridesharing service to reality in Japan.”

Joby announced the start of FAA conformity testing just last week as the company entered the implementation phase for its aircraft type certification program. An FAA Designated Engineering Representative documented the first series of tests, completed in California. According to Joby, the testing serves to “confirm the material strength of composite coupons that are representative of the aerostructure of Joby’s aircraft. The resulting compliance data will form the foundation for future testing of structural components of the aircraft as Joby progresses through the type certification process.”

A partnership between SK Telecom and Joby aims to introduce emissions-free aerial ridesharing services to the market in South Korea. (Photo: Joby Aviation)

In addition to the partnership announced this week with ANA, Joby also recently announced a new collaboration with SK Telecom to introduce Joby’s eVTOL operations to the South Korean market. South Korea has large urban populations, similar to the market in Japan; about 81% of the population in South Korea lives in urban areas and cities. “The parties will work together on all aspects of establishing this service in South Korea,” a representative from Joby told Avionics International in an emailed statement.

The representative also shared, “In the meantime, we welcome the Government’s efforts to support the development of this revolutionary new transportation option through the K-UAM Grand Challenge, established by MOLIT, and note that the FAA and South Korea have a Bi-Lateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) in place which sets an efficient path for the validation of Joby’s FAA aircraft certification.”

SK Telecom (SKT) will contribute their "T Map" mobility platform to the aerial ridesharing operations initiated by the new partnership. SKT’s T Map platform is the largest in Korea and was first brought into a joint venture—called UT—between SKT and Uber in 2021 that also leveraged Uber’s ridesharing technology. The aim of the agreement between Joby and SKT, according to the representative from Joby, is “to provide multi-modal journeys to customers, seamlessly integrating both ground and air travel.”

Pictured here, the CEOs of Joby and SK Telecom shake hands at the signing ceremony. (Photo: Joby Aviation)

SKT CEO Ryu Young-sang looks forward to accelerating UAM in South Korea by partnering with Joby Aviation. “Collaborating with leading global companies is essential to securing leadership in future industries, which we are confident will be driven by the growth of UAM, autonomous driving, and robots,” Young-sang said in the announcement from the two companies.

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