Joby Air Taxi FAA Certified: Flying Air Taxis Have Arrived

For years the Jetsons cartoons have offered the promise of flying cars as the future. Flying taxis in urban populations have seemed like the practical answer to that 1960s cartoon show. But now we’re really there. The FAA just certified Joby Aviation’s flying taxi. Commercial air taxis are coming to a major city near you.

What’s next for the Joby air taxi?

Joby air taxi
Joby air taxi with founder Joe Ben Bevirt | Joby

Certification and operational approvals have taken years. This FAA Part 135 Air Carrier Certification, is the first step in a three-pronged regulatory process. The next two certifications are type certification and production certification. Type certification shows the air taxi meets all design and safety standards. Production certification gives final approval for production. 

So Joby still has a way to go before getting final approvals to launch its all-electric on-demand ridesharing service. But it is still on track to begin passenger flights in 2024. And this certification came ahead of expectations, which was to happen later this year. 

However, the FAA recently announced it had revised the parameters for approving vertical takeoff and landing vehicles. According to The Air Currents, this could hamper Joby’s timeline. Some say it could take another five years before it receives certification. So far the FAA has not certified any eVTOL aircraft. 

What is the Joby flying air taxi?

Joby air taxi
Joby air taxi prototype | Joby

The taxi is a mashup of a drone, helicopter, and small airplane. It can supposedly fly at 200 mph with a range of over 150 miles before needing a charge. So far there hasn’t been information released about the batteries and powertrain. It seats five, including the pilot, and can take off vertically, then it tilts its rotors for horizontal flight. Joby says it is 100 times quieter than conventional airplanes. 

In February, there was an accident with someone piloting the prototype at its testing facility in Marina, California. No injuries were reported.

Besides developing the air taxi itself, Joby is also targeting certain cities to build a network of vertiports. So far there is no information on which cities will see these efforts. California-based Joby saw an investment in 2020 by Toyota of almost $400 million. It has also promised to share valuable manufacturing expertise as part of the deal. Toyota’s Shigeki Tomoyama is on Joby’s board of directors. Other companies like Hyundai, Porsche, Audi, and even Uber have been investing in urban flying taxis. 

Who founded Joby Air?

Joby Air eVTOL
Joby Air eVTOL | Joby

Joby has a board of directors that is somewhat of a who’s-who of Silicon Valley billionaires. The list includes Pinterest co-founder Paul Sciarra, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, and Zynga founder Mark Pincus. 

Joe Ben Bevirt started the Joby company in 2009. He is from Last Chance, a remote area of the nearby Santa Cruz mountains. His parents started the commune in the 1960s. It had members like Merry Pranksters’ Ken Kesey and author Gurney Norman. 

Kesey started the Magic Bus expeditions and also the Acid Test LSD parties. The off-the-grid commune is an unexpected beginning for an entrepreneur who has become the first aviation startup billionaire.

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