Joby’s eVTOL air taxi clears second of four FAA System Reviews

Joby eVTOL taxi FAA

Joby, the developer of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) planes designed for use in nearing air taxi services, says it has cleared another milestone in its push to obtain Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aircraft certification by completing the second of four required System Review inspections.

The System Review process strives to monitor the overall architecture viability of next-generation aircraft seeking certification. It also gauges how well companies involved are honing to their own previously established specs and timelines, while also meeting safety targets the regulator sets for aircraft. Last week, Joby hosted FAA officials for their second multi-day, in-house inspection of its eVTOL, receiving another thumbs-up to continue development of the future air taxi.

ReadJoby eVTOLs to provide airport air taxi service to Delta passengers under new deal

Joby is one of a small number of companies developing eVTOL aircraft that have managed to speedily progress through the FAA certification process, bringing their air taxi prototypes tantalizingly closer to the launch of services expected in 2024 or 2025. Sector rivals Archer and Wisk have also been standouts in advancing rapidly within the year or so of having won approval from regulators to begin trials of their craft.

Joby is considered by some observers as the most likely eVTOL company to first gain FAA certification, though last month it revised initial targets for its air taxi service launch from 2024 to 2025, citing both external and internal factors.

One of those was the expected wait for the FAA to provide full and final criteria for eVTOL air taxi certification, and resulting concerns that Joby and other developers might be working on potentially shifting ground until the definitive regulations are delivered. 

Indeed, the FAA already sent shock waves across the sector in March when it said it would no longer apply propulsion criteria used for smaller planes as planned, but instead “power-lift” rules similar to those of helicopters.

Despite expectations final FAA criteria won’t be delivered until late 2024, Joby continues charging ahead with its air taxi testing, using a set of air worthiness requirements the regulator issued last month specific to the company’s eVTOL.

Read: FAA issues Joby eVTOL air taxi-airworthiness criteria 

That in part paved the way to it clearing last week’s second System Review – one of many certification steps Joby has taken this year, including earning the FAA’s Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate in May. Last September, the company told investors that fully 84% of its Means of Compliance had been accepted by the FAA, with four area-specific certification plans submitted for approval.

“Progress on certification is a key area of focus for this nascent sector, and we’re pleased to mark our continued leadership with the successful completion of our second System Review,” said Didier Papadopoulos, head of Joby’s aircraft original equipment manufacturing. “We’re confident that our aircraft design is on track to meet the FAA’s expectations regarding system-level safety, redundancy, and overall aircraft architecture.”

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