Joby Aviation wants to perform dramatic eVTOL flights over San Francisco Bay – Techdoxx

Deepak Gupta
Deepak Gupta January 29, 2022
Updated 2022/01/29 at 4:22 AM

Joby Aviation is looking for permission for a series of high-profile air taxi flights over the San Francisco Bay, according to documents filed with the FCC and obtained by Ploonge.

Testing of the startup’s second-generation pre-production prototype, called the S4, would be the first in public view and the first in an urban setting.

The proposed tests in San Francisco are centered on two main tourist spots in the San Francisco Bay. one is about halfway between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, the other is south of the bay bridgecloser to Alameda.

“We are currently in the early stages of exploring the potential of flying a limited number of flights,” said Oliver Walker-Jones, Joby’s head of marketing, communications and branding. “We do not yet have confirmed plans and securing permission to do so requires us to work with a range of local and federal authorities. That said, this is all very exciting.”

The flights over the bay would follow a year of record flights, including the longest (155 miles), fastest (205 mph) and, Joby now tells Ploonge, the highest ever flights of a vertical takeoff and landing. electrical (eVTOL) aircraft.

“We have recently performed several flights above 7,000 feet (1.3 miles) of mean sea level,” Walker-Jones said. All of these flights took place in remote coastal areas and on private land around Santa Cruz, California.

As with its recent record-breaking flights, the all-electric, multi-propeller, five-seat S4 aircraft would not carry people. Instead, the tests, which would need permission from the FCC, FAA and city officials, would be piloted remotely from nearby ground control stations.

Joby’s inscription notes that flights typically last an hour, mostly over water and from sea level to 5,000 feet. It doesn’t reveal where the aircraft, which has a wingspan of nearly 40 feet and weighs up to 4,400 pounds, will take off, land and reload, though Walker-Jones told Ploonge it would be on dry land.

Volocopter carried out eVTOL over water demonstration flights in Singapore, and eHang carried out some flights in cities in South Asia; Joby’s flights, if approved, would be the first full-scale air taxi flights in an American city.

The stated reason for them is to evaluate the radio equipment used to remotely control the full-size aircraft. “Flight testing is an integral and necessary component of Joby’s ongoing efforts to obtain FAA flight certification for the new aircraft technology it is developing,” the FCC order reads.

The dramatic public tests are also likely to generate significant media coverage for the company, which went public last summer through a $1.1 billion SPAC deal and has since seen its shares tumble 50%.

“Testing the radio is the purpose of the demonstration flight in this area,” Walker-Jones said. “Of course, in the future, we see some positive benefits to the idea of ​​demonstrating the technology in an urban setting so that people start to see and understand how it fits in where it might eventually operate.”

The tests are also part of Joby’s $45 million multi-year contract with the US Air Force, which wants to add cutting-edge eVTOL aircraft to its “strategic capability portfolio”.

Joby now has two pre-production S4 prototypes certified for experimental operation by the FAA and the US Air Force.

Documents filed with the FAA in April 2021 state that the first pre-production prototype, which has been flying since October 2019, has completed 562 test flights and recorded a flight time of around 27 hours (meaning an average duration of less than three minutes), and has not flown faster than 80 mph or more than 1,000 feet.

Joby surpassed those previous records, Walker-Jones said, as part of an “envelope expansion campaign” to gradually tap into the aircraft’s potential. Last week, the company said the S4 slightly exceeded its stated top speed of 200 mph, with a test flight of 205 mph, and Walker-Jones said the prototype flew 17 missions lasting 20 minutes in January alone. The altitude record of 7,000 feet, if confirmed, would be much higher than what air taxis usually operate for short flights within and between cities.

According to Joby’s FAA filing last April, it is expected to build up to four S4 prototypes and make up to 600 test flights over the next two years. It will then move on to a final design of the six-engine airplane that can meet FAA type certification requirements for commercial operations.

Joby hopes to become a certified air carrier this year, before debuting its passenger service in 2024, with fully qualified pilots on board. Last year, it signed an agreement with urban real estate company Reef Technology to develop take-off and landing locations on the roof in parking structures in the Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco Bay Area metropolitan areas.

Last September, NASA performed acoustic tests of Joby’s S4 as it took off, flew and landed. The company expects its aircraft to be more than 100 times quieter than a conventional helicopter, allowing them to “operate in dense urban areas while blending in with the background noise of cities,” according to for an SEC filing. NASA and Joby told Ploonge that test results had not yet been released.

In January 2021, Joby acquired Uber’s air transport startup, Uber Elevate, as part of a $75 million investment by the ride-hailing giant. On a November SEC filingJoby valued its Elevate assets at just $20 million, with most of the value represented by its automation, multimodal and simulation software.

Joby’s application to the FCC for the San Francisco trials is still pending.

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