America’s leading eVTOL company has received Part 135 certification from the FAA, so it can now start offering on-demand commercial air taxi operations. Not with its eVTOL aircraft, manage you – that’s still a long way from being type-approved.
Instead, the company says it’ll begin flying people approximately in conventional aircraft to get its systems and processes together as it gears up to launch an urban air taxi operation of epic proportions.
Joby Aviation is preparing to manufacture its S4 aircraft en masse, beginning at around 200-400 units per year as soon as 2024, and then scaling up into the thousands, and while it will be selling them to other operators, its main focus is on getting its end-to-end transport service up and running.
Having acquired Uber Elevate, it’s developing the apps and software it’ll need to coordinate multi-mode trips. You’ll tell Joby where you need to go, it’ll arrange for ground transport to the nearest vertiport, synced up with the arrival of an aircraft. The aircraft will fly you to another vertiport closer to your destination, where you’ll be met by another ground vehicle to manage the last leg of the trip.
That’ll all take a bunch of work for this quirky but rapidly expanding California company to execute, so as the aircraft development team slogs on toward FAA certification of the aircraft, another part of the team will start flying people about to start learning first-hand what the business of a Part 135 Air Carrier looks like.
Joby’s Head of Air Operations and People, in a press release
“Over the coming months,” told Bonny Simi, Joby’s Head of Air Operations and People, in a press release, “we will operate our Part 135 certificate to exercise the operations and customer technology platforms that will underpin our multi-modal ridesharing service, while also refining our procedures to ensure seamless journeys for our customers.”
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According to the FAA’s aircraft registry, the company has two conventional fixed-wing planes on its books, to begin with. One’s a Vans RV-8 single-engine, tandem 2-seater kit plane. The other is a Cirrus SR22, a bigger plane seating four or five. At a wild guess, we’d say there won’t be landing on the top of urban carparks.
Joby’s Part 135 certification arrives slightly ahead of schedule
We’re not aware of any other eVTOL-specific startups that have achieved this level of certification, but on the other hand, there are already more than a thousand Part 135 operators in the USA ferrying people around in conventional aircraft.
The next two certification steps are the tough ones. To become production certified, Joby will require to demonstrate that its entire manufacturing operation is up to aerospace standards, and to complete type certification for the S4, it’ll require to satisfy the FAA that every component and system in the aircraft meets incredibly stringent safety standards.
The company acknowledges it’ll nail both of these and start slotting eVTOLs into its commercial operations by 2024.
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