Joby Aviation Claims ‘Fastest Flight of an eVTOL Aircraft’

California-based Joby Aviation is now focusing on reaching an altitude of 10,000 feet, during envelope expansion flights. [Courtesy Joby Aviation]

California-based Joby Aviation is now focusing on reaching an altitude of 10,000 feet, during envelope expansion flights. [Courtesy Joby Aviation]

California-based Joby Aviation (NYSE:JOBY) announced Friday it has completed the "fastest flight of an [electric vertical takeoff and landing] eVTOL aircraft to date."

The eVTOL company announced via Twitter it had achieved a true airspeed of 205 mph (178 knots) in its six-motor, tiltrotor, air taxi prototype. 

“Achievement unlocked — speed! At 205 mph true airspeed, our first pre-production aircraft just completed what we believe to be the fastest flight of an eVTOL aircraft to date," Joby's tweet said. "Next stop: 10,000 feet!”

Significant Milestones

For the infant eVTOL industry, where only a few companies have built and flown full-size test articles, surpassing the 200 mph achievement is significant.

That’s the maximum speed that Joby has promised investors its air taxi will be capable of. In addition, the company has said the aircraft—powered by Li-ion batteries—will be able to carry four passengers and a pilot with a range of 150 statute miles. 

Last July, the company flew 154.6 statute miles with a single battery charge. Joby says that flight is “believed to be the longest flight of an eVTOL aircraft to date.”

Joby’s speed milestones come nearly two weeks after the company announced it had received FAA certification for a second pre-production prototype, enabling it to double its flight test capacity. That aircraft has not yet joined the flight test campaign, but it’s expected to shortly.

On January 6, Joby announced it was adding a second electric air taxi test article to its fleet. [Courtesy: Joby Aviation]

Along with speed, noise is well-known as a key factor for the commercial success of eVTOLs as urban air mobility vehicles. Joby partnered with NASA last year to study its eVTOL’s “noise footprint.” The research is aimed at verifying how proposed aircraft operations can blend into a community’s existing background noise.

But there are significant questions about whether eVTOL companies and communities will be able to provide the complex infrastructure that will be needed for scaled commercial operations. Joby—which is backed by Uber—intends to leverage Uber’s popular rideshare app to offer customers on-demand air taxi services.

Planning to Enter Service in 2024

Wall Street investment house Morgan Stanley has singled out Joby as a frontrunner in the emerging eVTOL sector. The company has been flying full-sized eVTOL prototypes since 2017.

Joby says it remains on track to achieve FAA type certification of its vehicle in 2023, as part of its plan to begin an eVTOL air taxi service as a 14 CFR Part 135 air carrier in 2024. 

Last week, the company announced it was kicking off an internal aviation ground school for traditional aircraft to help employees and family members learn more about the dynamics of flying. The program is serving as a beta test for future external programs for pilots, Joby said.

Thom is a former senior editor for FLYING. Previously, his freelance reporting appeared in aviation industry magazines. Thom also spent three decades as a TV and digital journalist at CNN’s bureaus in Washington and Atlanta, eventually specializing in aviation. He has reported from air shows in Oshkosh, Farnborough and Paris. Follow Thom on Twitter @thompatterson.

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