Joby Aviation Considers eVTOL Test Flights Over San Francisco Bay

The hour-long tests of Joby’s electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft would reach altitudes up to 5,000 feet.

Joby Aviation (NYSE:JOBY) is considering flight testing its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in an urban setting for the first time, a company spokesman confirmed Friday. 

The California-based eVTOL frontrunner, which has been flying full-sized test articles since 2017, confirmed a TechCrunch report that a limited number of Joby test flights are possible over San Francisco Bay. 

Although the company said it had not finalized its plans, Joby has already applied with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to operate temporary radio transmitter stations to communicate during the proposed test flights. 

“Flight tests typically will be one hour in duration…with airborne operations up to a maximum altitude of 5,000 feet above mean sea level,” the FCC request document says. “Aircraft and ground test equipment will be operated at one location at a time.” 

In addition to FCC permission, the tests would need authorization from San Francisco officials as well as the FAA. 

Joby confirmed that if the flights take place, they would be uncrewed and remotely piloted. The tests would take place around areas south of the Bay Bridge and between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. 
The flights come as Joby begins accelerating its flight testing campaign. It recently received FAA and U.S. Air Force certification for a second aircraft. The existing aircraft recently reached a maximum airspeed of 205 mph (178 knots), which Joby said it believes was the “fastest flight of an eVTOL aircraft to date.” Both test articles use six tiltrotors driven by electric motors to provide lift and propulsion.

The company has been recognized by Morgan Stanley as the leader in the race to develop zero-emission air taxis for quick hops over congested urban areas. So far, Joby’s test flights have taken place in rural settings.

Joby expects to receive FAA type certification for its production eVTOL in 2023, entering service as a Part 121 passenger carrier in 2024. 

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