Joby Partners With Aviation High School to Train eVTOL Technicians

The New York City high school program is part of the company’s plan to prepare services and infrastructure for electric aircraft.

Aviation High School’s maintenance classroom, called the main hangar, houses a diversity of aircraft including antiques like a Stearman biplane and a Bell 47 helicopter. [Credit: Jonathan Welsh]

As electric propulsion gains traction as a potential next wave in aviation technology, hundreds of high school students in New York are getting a head start on maintaining and managing the eVTOL aircraft that could be shuttling passengers around their city in a few years.

Joby Aviation, Inc. (NYSE: JOBY), a company developing eVTOL vehicles for air taxis and similar passenger operations, said it entered a partnership with Aviation High School to train aspiring aircraft maintenance technicians and aerospace leaders for careers in “the electric age of flight.”

Students work on an AT-6 trainer at Aviation High School in Queens, New York [Credit: Jonathan Welsh]

The school, located in the Long Island City area of New York’s borough of Queens, was previously called the Manhattan School of Aviation Trades and has operated since 1936. Its main purpose is preparing FAA-certificated airframe and powerplant mechanics. The school is known across the aviation industry, where its graduates account for a significant share of the technical workforce locally.

Joby said working with school and city education and transportation officials helps the company develop strategies for operating within local transportation systems and infrastructures. For the high school, Joby represents an opportunity to expand its programs and prepare students to remain as competitive as possible as air transport evolves.    

“Industry partnerships such as the one between Aviation High School and Joby Aviation are key in ensuring our career-pathways programs are exciting, relevant to students’ interests, and valuable in preparing our young people for life after graduation,” New York City Schools Chancellor David C. Banks said. “I’m grateful to everyone at Aviation High School and Joby Aviation for their dedication to our students and their futures.”

Students work on the tail rotor of a Bell 47 at New York's Aviation High School. [Credit: Jonathan Welsh]

Joby’s partnership with the school closely follows its announcement of a partnership with Delta Air Lines to develop a home-to-airport service for Delta’s customers. The planned operations will begin in New York and Los Angeles.

The school’s aviation classroom looks like the maintenance hangars at large general aviation airports, with the feel of a museum mixed in. During a visit to the school this week I saw teams of students in neat white coveralls working on a range of aircraft from business jets and piston singles like Cessna 152s and Beechcraft Bonanzas, to a vintage Bell 47 helicopter and a few AT-6 Texans. Now eVTOLs are entering the curriculum.

Under the partnership, 100 of the school’s students have enrolled in Joby’s online private pilot ground school course, which includes instruction on basic aerodynamics and piloting. Joby said it will also work with the school’s faculty to add the study of electric propulsion systems and other new technologies into its curriculum. Joby also recently brought four virtual-reality simulators to the school so students can virtually pilot the company’s S4 eVTOL aircraft.

“With electrification and air taxis set to revolutionize the aviation industry, we are excited to partner with Joby to inspire and train our students to work with these cutting-edge technologies and prepare the talented young men and women of New York City for successful careers in the aviation world of tomorrow,” said Aviation High School’s principal Steven R. Jackson.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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