Advanced Air Mobility, Military

Joby Aviation Delivers First eVTOL Aircraft for U.S. Air Force’s 412th Test Wing

By Frank Wolfe | September 27, 2023
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U.S. Air Force Maj. Mike Corson (left), 418th Flight Test Squadron pilot, and Capt. Terrence McKenna, AFWERX Agility Prime test and experimentation lead, perform a pre-flight check on a Joby S4 aircraft this spring. The Joby S4 is a five-seat electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. (Courtesy Photo on Edwards AFB Web Page)

California-based Joby Aviation, Inc. [JOBY] said on Sept. 25 that it has delivered its first electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for the U.S. Air Force to Edwards AFB, Calif.’s 412th Test Wing “approximately six months ahead of the expected 2024 delivery date.”

“On-base operations with Joby aircraft will be used to demonstrate a range of logistics missions, including cargo and passenger transportation, and will be operated by both Joby and U.S. Air Force personnel,” the company said. “In partnership with the U.S. Air Force, NASA will also use the aircraft for research focused on how these aircraft could fit into the national airspace, benefiting the entire [commercial] air taxi industry.”

The eVTOL is to have a range of up to 100 miles, “plus energy reserves,” a top speed of 200 miles per hour, and an ability to carry a pilot and four passengers, according to Joby.

Joby founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt “was in my office at the beginning of this year talking about the prospects of looking for a manufacturing facility, and I asked him about the prospects [for Dayton],” Turner said on Sept. 18  “And I must tell you, in that meeting, he was not optimistic. We were not competitive. We were not top of the list. What changed? The difference? The difference is Gov. DeWine and JobsOhio.”

Joby will look to leverage its proximity in Dayton to Air Force Materiel Command and the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB.

Joby has said that it expects the formal launch of its eVTOL next year after it receives type certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (Defense Daily, Aug. 15, 2022).

Joby’s first eVTOL “has already begun flying at Edwards,” and the delivery came under the company’s $131 million contract with the U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX innovation arm, the company said on Sept. 25.

Under the $131 million AFWERX Agility Prime contract, Joby may deliver nine eVTOL aircraft to the Air Force and other federal government agencies.

“Joby’s current and previously completed work with the Department of Defense represents a total potential contract value of $163 million, the largest in the industry,” the company said. “A second aircraft is planned to be delivered to Edwards in early 2024.”

The Air Force and Joby are to conduct “joint flight testing and operations to demonstrate the aircraft’s capabilities in realistic mission settings,” Joby said. “On-base operations will also include the training of Air Force pilots and aircraft maintenance crews, which will provide the DoD with valuable insight into the performance of eVTOL aircraft and will give Joby on-the-ground operational and training experience as the company prepares for the launch of commercial passenger service in 2025.”

Joby’s work with DoD dates back to 2016 when the Defense Innovation Unit gave the company early funding and access to test ranges.

“Over the past year, the U.S. Air Force and Marines have made multiple visits to Joby’s manufacturing and flight test facilities in Marina, Calif.,” Joby said on Sept. 25. “Four U.S. Air Force pilots completed full remotely-piloted transition flights of the Joby aircraft in April, and two groups of Marines visited in May to conduct mission analysis regarding potential logistics and medical applications of the aircraft.”

This article was originally published by Defense Daily, a sister publication of Avionics International. It has been edited. Read the original version here >>

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