Developer of electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxis Joby Aviation says it has obtained its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate nearly a half year ahead of schedule. The company will now use the permit to operate traditional aircraft to prepare the launch of services with next-generation vehicles in 2024.
Santa Cruz, California-based Joby made the announcement less than two weeks after it revealed “game changer” results in acoustic testing of its prototype, confirming expectations the noise it generates will be barely perceptible in urban environments. Receipt of the FAA’s Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate was well ahead Joby’s target for the second half of 2022, and marks another major step in its plans to put the eVTOL craft into commercial air taxi service within two years.
The development comes a little more than two months after the company said it had commenced the fourth of five phases in the Part 135 process. That included submission of over 850 pages of manuals for approval; test pilots demonstrating they’d mastered established procedures; and pursuit of trial activities under the watch of FAA observers. Such quick completion of the final two phases seemed to take even company planners by surprise.
In order to launch its eVTOL craft in commercial air taxi operation, Joby will also need to earn the FAA’s Type Certificate – often considered the most formidable hurdle for aviation developers – and a Production Certificate.
But with its Part 135 Air Carrier permit in the bag, however, the company can begin using traditional fixed-wing planes to test and improve routes and services it will introduce when its prototype is certified for operation and mass production.
“Over the coming months, we will use 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,” said Bonny Simi, head of air operations and people at Joby, and one of its FAA-approved pilots. “Receiving this certificate ahead of schedule is a testament to the incredible dedication and hard work of our team.”
Joby’s piloted eVTOL craft is designed to fly up to four air taxi passengers over a maximum range of 150 miles on a single charge, reaching top speeds of 200 mph. The company has conducted over 1,000 test flights since it sent its first full-scale prototype aloft in 2017, and last year set a 150-mile endurance record.
Joby suffered a setback in February when one of its two test craft crashed during a particularly demanding trial over an uninhabited area. A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board cited “component failure” as the cause.
In addition to pressing ahead with its efforts to introduce eVTOL operations in the US, Joby has also been advancing plans and striking partnerships in other countries where it also intends to launch air taxi services, notably South Korea and Japan.