Joby Aviation, the publicly traded electric aerial vehicle company with a current market capitalization of $3.1 billion, has received the necessary certification from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin on-demand commercial air taxi operations, the company said on Thursday. Thursday.
While it is a significant milestone that brings Joby closer to its stated goal of commercially launching its electric air-sharing service in 2024, the startup still has a long way to go until it can carry passengers in its electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles ( eVTOL). Joby has only built two prototype vehicles and did not share with TechCrunch how many it intends to build and deploy for its initial launch.
Additionally, the Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate received this week is just one of three FAA certifications the company will need to operate its eVTOLs as air taxis in the United States; the other two are a Type Certificate and a Production Certificate. That said, Joby recently acquired Avionyx, an aerospace software engineering company with a long history of helping aviation companies achieve FAA certifications.
And in March, Joby said it would work with CAE, an aviation trainer, to develop and qualify flight simulation training devices so commercially-qualified pilots can train to fly eVTOL. “The procedures we have prepared lay the groundwork for our future eVTOL operations,” said Bonny Simi, Joby’s chief of air operations and staff and one of the company’s FAA-approved pilots, in a statement.
“In the coming months, we will use our Part 135 certification to leverage the operations and customer technology platforms that will support our multimodal rideshare service, while also refining our procedures to ensure safe and seamless travel for our customers.” Joby Aviation eVTOL prototype aircraft. Image credit: Joby Aviation In other words, Joby will begin testing the back-end technology needed to operate what will be an Uber-like ride-sharing service in the sky, a company spokesperson told TechCrunch.
For example, Joby has been developing technology that shows drivers where their next ride is coming from, similar to how Uber drivers can see who they’re picking up next. Once the consumer app is developed, Joby will begin testing it with employees, a spokesperson told TechCrunch, noting that the company will likely run a pilot after that. Joby did not disclose which test routes it intends to fly, but the company is currently flying an employee shuttle between San Jose and Marina, California.
While Joby has entered into partnerships with South Korean telecommunications company SK Telecom and Japanese airline ANA to launch a commercial air taxi service in both countries, the company has its initial launch set for the US at what location. From the US, Joby wouldn’t say, but most of their public testing is done in California. Initially, Joby will build on existing infrastructure and underutilized assets, such as parking lots and heliports to dock air taxis, while working to build a network of vertiports together with partners.
Last June, the startup announced a partnership with Reef, one of the largest parking lot operators in the country, and Neighborhood Property Group, a real estate acquisition company, to build a network of vertiports, starting in Los Angeles, San Francisco , Miami and New York. . Joby is also working with Macquarie Capital, an infrastructure asset manager; Signature Aviation, a provider of private airport landing sites; and Related Companies, the largest landlord in New York City, to develop vertiports prior to a commercial launch. Joby intends to run his own app to give passengers access to his air taxi service, but the plan is for it to be integrated into Uber’s app as well, and vice versa.
The two companies struck this deal in 2020, when Joby bought Uber Elevate, the ride-sharing company’s air taxi venture, and Uber invested $75 million in the startup.