Joby Aviation’s electric flying taxis got regulatory approval for flight testing, keeping the company on track to launch commercial operations in 2025.
The California-based manufacturer said in a statement on Wednesday (June 28), that the Federal Aviation Administration has given it permission to test its first prototype aircraft built on the production line.
The eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) maker currently plans to deliver two aircraft to Edwards Air Force Base in 2024 as part of its $131 million Department of Defense contract with the US Air Force, which expects to use the eVTOLs for passenger and cargo transportation. It would mark Joby’s first customer delivery.
The next step is the launch of its commercial passenger services, which are expected to begin in 2025. To that end, Joby has already formed a partnership with Delta Airlines to shuttle passengers to and from airports.
Toyota, Joby’s biggest investor, has poured $400 million into making its eVTOL aircraft a reality. In April, the two companies signed a long-term supply agreement, in which the Japanese automaker agreed to provide Joby with powertrain and other components for its electric air taxi production.
California isn’t the only place where eVTOLs are readying for take off. Next summer, France plans to have a fleet of electric air taxis ready for use around Paris during the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
Volocopter, a German eVTOL company, is seeking to gain regulatory approval and become the supplier for the event. “The Olympics are our North Star,” Dirk Hoke, CEO of Volocopter, told Reuters.
Electric air taxis, be it in the US or Europe, have yet to receive full commercial approval for flight. With a 2024 deadline, Volocopter aims to reach that milestone first.
The Paris Air Show, which ran from June 19 to June 25, drew 400,000 attendees (link in French). The display of eVTOL prototypes, which included models from Volocoptor and Archer, was one of the big attractions.