Joby Aviation rolls first eVTOL off production line and is already FAA certified to begin test flights

eVTOL developer Joby Aviation has completed building the first aircraft off its pilot production line in Southern California. The Joby aircraft is expected to become the “first ever eVTOL to be delivered to a customer” next year, but it will need to complete flight testing before then. Luckily, the FAA has already issued certification.

Joby Aviation, Inc. ($JOBY) is a company developing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with the goal of operating a fast, quiet, emissions-free passenger transportation service to cities around the globe – like the bay area near its pilot production line in Marina, California.

The startup first caught our attention back in 2018 when it garnered $100 million in funding, led by the venture arms of Intel, JetBlue, and Toyota. In 2020, Toyota led Joby’s Series C funding round, investing a whopping $394 million of the $590M pledged.

As part of that investment, Toyota acquired a minority stake in Joby, in which it said it would share its expertise in manufacturing, quality, and cost controls to support eVTOL development and production.

This past April, Toyota and Joby extended their relationship further with a new supply agreement to enable the scaling of genuine eVTOL production. That funding and production insight has paid off so far, as Joby has its pilot line humming and has just rolled its first eVTOL production prototype off of it.

Joby eVTOL prototype cleared for (vertical) takeoff

Joby’s production eVTOL prototype represents the company’s steady progress in delivering its first commercial aircraft to a customer before reaching coveted scaled production. The precursor to today’s latest prototype was Joby’s pre-production eVTOL, which has flown over 30,000 miles since it was built in 2019.

California Governor Gavin Newsom visited Joby’s facilities on Sunday for an up close look before the company hosts a ceremony to celebrate the launch of pilot production today. It will be attended by the Toyota Motor North America president and CEO, Tetsuo “Ted” Ogawa, and over 1,000 other guests. Ogawa is also scheduled to join Joby’s board of directors on July 1, 2023. Joby founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt spoke to the company’s progress:

Today’s achievement is the culmination of years of investment in our processes and technology and it marks a major step on our journey to scaled production. We’re proud to have launched production in our home state of California. I’m incredibly grateful to the Joby team for their commitment to ensuring Joby remains the clear leader in this new sector and to Toyota for sharing their knowledge and experience with us over many years. Their support has been indispensable in helping us reach this point.

Joby states the production prototype eVTOL has been designed and manufactured in accordance with the quality and management requirements from the Federal Aviation Administration in order to begin commercial operations. That day hasn’t come just yet, but the FAA has certified Joby’s newest eVTOL to begin test flights.

The company says testing will continue through 2023 before the prototype is delivered to Edwards Air Force Base in California for additional demonstrations and use case testing as part of the contract with the Air Force worth as much as $131 million.

Following its first customer delivery, Joby looks to achieve commercial flight certification, which will enable scaled eVTOL production in California. Commercial passenger operations are expected to begin in 2025 with companies like Joby’s latest partner, Delta Airlines.

The company promised to share the “expected performance” of its eVTOL aircraft during the ceremony today, so we will be sure to update this piece with some specs if we get them. We also hope Joby will eventually put out some test flight footage once the production prototype takes to the air.

Until then, here’s an up close look at the eVTOL recently captured by Joby.

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