The FAA has issued a Special Airworthiness Certificate for the first aircraft that Joby has built at its production line in Marina, California. (Photos: Joby Aviation)
Joby Aviation has achieved a significant breakthrough, the company shared this week. On Wednesday, Joby announced that its first aircraft, manufactured at its Pilot Production Line in Marina, California, has been granted a Special Airworthiness Certificate by the Federal Aviation Administration. This notable achievement propels Joby into the next phase of flight testing for its groundbreaking production prototype.
Toyota, a strategic partner and investor, worked closely with Joby on the production line and the process of building the aircraft. Toyota has invested roughly $400 million in Joby and is the largest external shareholder. Toyota Motor North America’s President and CEO Tetsuo “Ted” Ogawa will soon join Joby’s Board of Directors.
The issuance of the Special Airworthiness Certificate represents a momentous occasion for Joby Aviation. It positions the company to realize its vision of introducing the world’s first-ever electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to customers. Scheduled for delivery to Edwards Air Force Base in 2024, the aircraft will be operated by Joby as part of its Agility Prime contract with the U.S. Air Force. The Agility Prime contract was extended for a third time in April, and it now carries a value of up to $131 million.
Joby’s subscale demonstrator was completed in 2014, and the team has conducted flights with the full-scale demonstrator since 2017. Since 2019, their pre-production prototype aircraft have traversed more than 30,000 miles, gathering invaluable data and experience. The production prototype is a testament to the company’s commitment to enhancing safety and reliability while advancing toward FAA certification and scaling up production.
Joby announced in February of this year that the team had completed the second of five stages in the type certification process. The first stage is defining the Certification Basis. The second stage involves identifying the methods of demonstrating the Means of Compliance.
Joby’s production prototype has been manufactured in adherence to a released design. The aircraft was constructed based on a comprehensive implementation of a quality management system. These milestones are crucial in Joby’s journey towards obtaining the FAA’s type certification.
Joby’s plans include launching commercial passenger operations by 2025. The company recently joined forces with Delta Air Lines in a collaboration to offer travelers emissions-free journeys to and from airports.
Before being transferred to Edwards Air Force Base, the production prototype will undergo initial flight testing. At Edwards Air Force Base, the aircraft will play a pivotal role in demonstrating a diverse range of potential logistics use cases, highlighting the versatility and adaptability of Joby’s technology.
JoeBen Bevirt, the company’s founder and CEO, remarked on the team’s progress, saying that this milestone is the result of significant investment into their technology and processes. “It marks a major step on our journey to scaled production,” he stated.
California Governor Gavin Newsom visited Joby’s facilities in Marina, California, and met with some of the team members. “California is proud to be home to some of the world’s most innovative companies,” he commented. “Joby is changing the game when it comes to the next frontier of flight: zero emission aviation. Our world-leading climate action relies on the technological advances and pioneering spirit of the private sector.”