he eVTOL air taxi developer Joby Aviation provided more transparency into its operations, production, and certification timelines in material presented at the company’s Analyst Day on June 3.
The Santa Cruz, California-based company revealed that it is starting the process of applying for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 135 air carrier certificate, which it expects to obtain in mid-2022. That will allow Joby to operate its own aircraft for urban air mobility missions, which the company believes will maximize its economic returns while providing it with end-to-end control over the customer experience.
Achieving a Part 135 certificate will be key to enabling the launch of Joby’s commercial aerial rideshare service in 2024. The company says it plans to announce launch markets for this service by the end of this year. By 2026, with an expected total rideshare fleet of 850 aircraft, according to a previous investor deck, the company plans to be conducting 40 flights per aircraft per day, for a total of 34,000 daily operations — far more than most commercial airlines.
To meet these ambitious fleet goals, the company is planning a staged production approach, with Phase 1 beginning in 2024. To start, the company will produce 200 to 400 aircraft per year, with annual capacity eventually expanding into the thousands. The location for the Phase 1 plant site will be announced by the end of this year, and Joby says it will go online some time in 2023.
However, before Joby can launch commercial operations, its aircraft must undergo the FAA’s type certification process — proving “to ourselves and the world that it is safe enough to fly everyone, every day,” as Joby CEO JoeBen Bevirt put it in a video presentation.
Earlier this year, Joby announced that it has established an FAA certification basis and obtained a G-1 issue paper for its eVTOL aircraft. During the Analyst Day presentation, the company elaborated on its certification timeline beyond this issue paper, explaining that it is currently working with the FAA to establish G-2 means of compliance. Joby plans to conduct its first FAA for-credit testing in the second half of this year. The first flight of a type-design representative aircraft will follow in the first half of 2022, with type certification still targeted for some time in 2023.
Joby will also begin scaling its Department of Defense (DoD) on-base logistics operations in 2023. The company has already secured $40 million in contracts through Agility Prime, the U.S. Air Force’s effort to accelerate development of the commercial eVTOL industry, and is in discussion for additional contracts worth over $100 million. Joby says these early revenue opportunities with the DoD are helping it reduce technology and operational risk as it works toward its rideshare service.