Flying 150 nm on a single charge, the full-sized, electric-powered prototype of the eVTOL developed by Joby Aero marked a milestone earlier this month, the company announced on July 27 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The mission, part of Joby’s continuing flight-test program, was carried out near the Joby Electric Flight Base at Big Sur, California.
Piloted from the ground by Joby chief test pilot Justin Paines, the eVTOL lifted off vertically before making the transition to forward flight. The circular flight path outlined by the craft was predetermined, and Paines completed 11 laps of the circuit, logging 1 hour 17 minutes in the air. The vertical landing ended the flight, which covered a total of 154.6 statute miles. Paines is a former Royal Air Force test pilot who worked on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s flight control system prior to joining Joby.
JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby, said: “We’ve achieved something that many thought impossible with today’s battery technology. By doing so we’ve taken the first step towards making convenient, emissions-free air travel between places like San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, Houston and Austin, or Los Angeles and San Diego an everyday reality.”
Paines said of the mission, “We’ve been building up to this for several months now, flying progressively longer sorties. As we’ve extended the range, we’ve been able to identify modifications to the aircraft that improve efficiency and, for the final few tests, we were able to upgrade the landing gear on our prototype aircraft to one with a drag profile more representative of what we expect to see on our production aircraft. While we still have plenty more testing to do, achieving this milestone is an important validation of our technology and I’m incredibly proud to have played a small part in what is, to our knowledge, the longest all-electric eVTOL flight performed to date.” Joby aims for commercial passenger service in 2024 with an aircraft that can carry four passengers at a top speed of 200 mph. Watch a video of the flight here.