Joby begins piloted eVTOL flying

Joby eVTOL

Joby reports flight testing of its eVTOL aircraft with pilots onboard has begun.

So far, four of Joby’s flight test team have now piloted flights on board the pre-production prototype aircraft. The team completed initial tests including free thrustborne hovers and forward transitions to semi-thrustborne flight.

The testing, conducted at the firm’s facility in Marina, CA, complements flying at Edwards Air Force Base, where both Joby and US Air Force (USAF) pilots will demonstrate the aircraft’s capabilities in realistic operating scenarios. Joby announced delivery of their first eVTOL aircraft to the USAF last week. 

The piloted testing, led by Joby’s chief test pilot James “Buddy” Denham, will lay some of the groundwork for future ‘for credit’ testing as part of Joby’s ongoing certification programme with the FAA.

Denham, joined Joby in 2019 after retiring from Naval Air Systems Command, said: “Having helped design and test flight controls for a wide variety of aircraft, including all three variants of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, nothing compares to the simplicity and grace of the Joby aircraft. After completing more than 400 vertical take-offs and landings from the ground, it is a privilege to sit in the cockpit of our aircraft and experience first-hand the ease and intuitive nature of the design that the Joby team has developed.”

As noted, during the testing Joby pilots assessed a number of tasks and manoeuvres that will form part of normal operations, including vertical takeoffs, accelerating and transitioning to forward flight, runway centerline tracking and decelerating to a vertical landing on a representative landing pad.

Meanwhile, Joby recently announced Dayton, Ohio as the location for its first scaled aircraft manufacturing facility. The OEM is forecasting a capex spend of $500m on the site which should be capable of producing up to 500 aircraft per year initially. 

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