Joby Aviation Targets the U.K.’s Air Taxi Market

California-based electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) developer establishes a presence in Britain, weeks after announcing a deal in Japan.

Joby Aviation (NYSE: JOBY) is targeting the U.K. for the first time, as the California-based electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi developer widens its international scope. 

“We’re establishing a presence in the U.K. to support our work with these and other partners,” Joby tweeted on March 3, adding that it’s also joining the aerospace coalition ADS Group “to help support the successful launch of fast, clean, and convenient air taxi services across the U.K.” 

European countries have joined aviation industry stakeholders in a goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Urban air mobility (UAM)—with its battery-powered air taxis—fits into that larger goal. 

Joby says it has been spending the past year working with the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) “to facilitate a path to validating our type certificate.” The company says it’s collaborating with U.K. air traffic control authority, NATS, “to explore the integration of Joby services into the U.K. airspace.” 

Joby’s tweets come less than three weeks after Joby and All Nippon Airways reached an agreement to partner in Japan—clearly indicating Joby’s international intentions.

FAA and CAA Team Up on eVTOL Development

As Joby sets its sights on the U.K., the U.S. FAA and Britain’s CAA have been increasing their collaboration on eVTOL development and operations. 

Capitalizing on their strong history of working together on certification, airspace operations, and infrastructure, the FAA said both organizations are “engaged in a range of bilateral and multilateral discussions focused on facilitating certification and validating new eVTOL aircraft, production, continued airworthiness, operations, and personnel licensing.”

Joby vs. U.K.’s Vertical Aerospace

As Joby begins to set up shop in Britain, it joins a burgeoning (advanced air mobility) AAM industry there that includes companies such as Vertical Aerospace (NYSE: EVTL), which has been test flying full-sized prototypes since 2018. In 2020, the Bristol-based company unveiled its design for its VX4 air taxi. According to its website, Vertical Aerospace expects VX4 to receive CAA/EASA type certification by 2024. 

Vertical Aerospace has already secured provisional eVTOL pre-orders from American Airlines and other carriers. London’s Heathrow Airport (EGLL) has joined Vertical Aerospace in exploring the possibility of air taxi service based from there by “the mid-2020s.” 

Backed by Uber, Joby has been test flying full-sized air taxi prototypes since 2017, completing more than 1,000 test flights. Joby has said it’s on track to receive FAA certification in time to enter service in 2024. 

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