California-based air taxi company Joby Aero has completed the longest flight for an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft to date.
The record-breaking 150 mile, hour-long flight was completed at Joby’s site in Big Sur, California earlier this month.
Joby claims that this flight represents an important milestone in the development of its air taxi service – expected to be fully operational in 2024.
“We’ve achieved something that many thought impossible with today’s battery technology,” says JoeBen Bevirt, Joby Aero’s founder and CEO.
“By doing so we’ve taken the first step towards making convenient, emissions-free air travel between places like San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, Houston and Austin, or Los Angeles and San Diego an everyday reality.”
The prototype air taxi uses commercially available lithium-ion batteries that have been adapted for aerospace use. Joby claims that these batteries provide the energy necessary for the taxi to fly 150 miles, with vertical take-off and landing for more than 10,000 flight cycles.
“We’ve worked hard to maximize the energy efficiency of this aircraft and prove what we have always known to be possible with today’s battery technology,” says Jon Wagner, Head of Powertrain and Electronics. “With the right cell chemistry and a lot of hard work across the entire engineering team, we’ve been able to create a remarkably efficient aircraft that can make the most of today’s commercially available batteries.”
By 2024, Joby hopes that its air taxis will be able to transport a pilot and four passengers at speeds of up to 200 mph.
“We’ve been building up to this for several months now, flying progressively longer sorties,” says Justin Paynes, Joby’s Chief Test Pilot and former RAF test pilot.
“As we’ve extended the range, we’ve been able to identify modifications to the aircraft that improve efficiency and, for the final few tests, we were able to upgrade the landing gear on our prototype aircraft to one with a drag profile more representative of what we expect to see on our production aircraft.
“While we still have plenty more testing to do, achieving this milestone is an important validation of our technology and I’m incredibly proud to have played a small part in what is, to our knowledge, the longest all-electric eVTOL flight performed to date.”
At present, Joby is working towards certifying its aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration, having already agreed on a G-1 certification basis and been awarded a US Air Force Airworthiness Approval.
Whether these air taxis will take to the skies in 2024, however, remains to be seen.