Joby delivers first aircraft half-year ahead of schedule


Joby has delivered its first aircraft to Edwards Air Force Base about six months ahead of the expected 2024 delivery date. 

On-base operations with Joby’s aircraft will be used to showcase a range of logistics missions, including cargo and passenger transportation. In partnership with the US Air Force (USAF), NASA will also use the aircraft to research how eVTOL aircraft might fit into the national airspace. The delivery will be celebrated at an event held this morning at 10:00am PT at Edwards Air Force Base.

Joby’s aircraft, which has already begun flying at the base, is the first electric air taxi to be stationed on a US military base and is also believed by its makers to be the first delivery of an electric air taxi in the US. The delivery forms part of Joby’s $131m AFWERX Agility Prime contract. The agreement includes the delivery of up to nine aircraft to the USAF and other federal agencies. A second aircraft is planned to be delivered to Edwards in early 2024.

JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby said: “We’re proud to join the ranks of revolutionary aircraft that first demonstrated their capabilities at Edwards Air Force Base, including the first American jet fighter, the first supersonic aircraft, and many others that have pushed the boundaries of aviation technology.”

“The longstanding support of the DOD and NASA has been critical to the rapid development of electric aviation and eVTOL aircraft, and demonstrates how successful public-private partnerships can bring new technology to life at speed. Their work will have profound implications for continued American leadership in both commercial and defence aerospace technology,” Bevirt added.

The aircraft will be stationed at Edwards Air Force Base for at least the next year. Charging and ground support equipment has been provided on-base by Joby in a purpose-built facility for joint flight test operations. The USAF and Joby will conduct joint testing in realistic mission settings. On-base operations will also include the training of USAF pilots and aircraft maintenance crews. So far, four USAF pilots have completed full remotely-piloted transition flights of the Joby aircraft.

Col. Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director and chief commercialisation officer for the Department of the Air Force said: “Agility Prime’s stated objective in 2020 was to work towards an operational capability for transformative vertical lift in the DoD by 2023. The arrival of Joby’s aircraft at Edwards AFB is an important step towards achieving this objective.”

As noted, NASA will also be supporting the testing with pilots, researchers and equipment. It is not far for NASA to travel, its Armstrong Flight Research Center is located on Edwards Air Force Base, and has a long history of supporting important technological milestones in aviation and space.

NASA research pilot Wayne Ringelberg, said: “NASA’s participation in the Joby and AFWERX project will provide our researchers with hands-on experience with a representative eVTOL vehicle, concentrated on how these types of aircraft could fit into the national airspace for everyday use, that will inform NASA’s effort in supporting the entire eVTOL industry. The research will include a focus on handling qualities evaluation tools, autonomy, and airspace integration, which is all needed research to push the industry forward.”

Watch the delivery event live on Youtube.