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Joby build NASA's X-57 Maxwell electric cruise motors, but its eVTOL work is being closely held. (NASA/Lauren Hughes)

Joby Expands in Monterey County

On Aug. 21, the city council of Marina, California, gave its approval for Joby Aviation to move into two buildings at the Marina Municipal Airport where, according to the Monterey County Weekly, “ they will set about designing and building prototypes of small, electric planes that take off and land vertically, travel faster and more quietly than a helicopter and, according to Joby, do it more safely.” The company will be leasing 74,000 ft² (6,900 m²) across two buildings, with plans to expand to a manufacturing facility of 1.5 – 2 million ft² (139,000 – 186,000 m²). Joby currently employs about 170 people in Bonny Doon, in Santa Cruz County, California; the Marina Airport is about 30 miles (50 km) southeast as the eVTOL flies … or a two-hour drive in rush hour. Source:  An ambitious flying taxi startup is setting up shop at the Marina Municipal Airport, Monterey Country Weekly, Aug. 30, 2018

Joby Lotus Featured Image

Joby Lotus (defunct)

Lotus Joby Aviation Santa Cruz, California, USA The Joby Aviation Lotus was designed in partnership with NASA to demonstrate that a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft would be able to achieve a 24-hour flight endurance. A subscale demonstrator was built but never flown. The Lotus was a vectored thrust tricopter with a fixed wing and three propellers. The twin blade wing-tip propellers would fold outward in cruise mode, adding lift to the wing. The tail propeller, mounted atop the rudder, would tilt forward to become a tractor prop for powered cruising. The model was electric with a 4.5 kg battery capable of 2.98 kWs of power, although a full size version would have been hybrid-electric. The demonstrator was 24.9 kg with a 3.35 m wingspan and capable of a 3.2 kg payload. Cruise speed was 114.8 km/h and cruise altitude was 3,048 m. The demonstrator was to be capable of more than an hour’s flight time. Had a full sized Lotus drone been developed it would have been roughly twice the size, five times the weight with a 27.2 kg payload and capable of over 24 hours of flight. In May 2018, the Vertical Flight Society presented Joby Aviation’s CEO, JoeBen Bevirt, its Paul E. Haueter Award, given for an outstanding technical contribution to the field of VTOL aircraft development other than a helicopter or an operational vertical flight aircraft, for all of the company’s eVTOL work to date, including successfully demonstrating the world’s first high-speed multi-passenger electric VTOL aircraft, the Joby S4. Resources Search eVTOL news posts Website: Joby Aviation Press release: The Next Phase at Joby, Feb 1, 2018 U.S. Patent: Aerodynamically efficient lightweight vertical take-off and landing aircraft with pivoting rotors and stowing rotor blades, March 18, 2014 Paper: Design and Testing of the Joby Lotus Multifunctional Rotor VTOL UAV, Pranay Sinha, 2015 Article: Under contract with NASA, Joby has developed a truly novel VTOL configuration: the Lotus, sUAS News, July 9, 2017 Article: EAS IX: JoeBen Pulls off a Hat Trick, Sustainable Skies, May 14, 2015 Article: The Joby S2 VTOL Concept, Vertiflite, November 1, 2014 Article: AHS International Leads Transformative Vertical Flight Initiative, eVTOL News, November 1, 2014 Video: Joby Aviation Lotus, stealthyf23, April 13, 2016 Video: VTOL UAV with Rotor blades that merge to a wing edge Joby Aviation, TilTuli, July 31, 2015 Video: Joby Aviation Lotus wingtip rotor flow simulation, Joby Aviation, April 8, 2014 Tags: Joby, Vectored Thrust, Defunct, Scaled Prototype, 0 Passengers, Electric Hybrid, Autonomous, VFS Member

Joby S2 at sunset

Joby S2 (defunct)

S2 Joby Aviation Santa Cruz, California, USA Joby Aviation’s S2 concept expanded from its two year collaborative study with NASA that resulted in the NASA GL-10, Joby Lotus and joint NASA/Joby LEAPTech concepts. The S2 would feature 12 propellers on tiling and folding nacelles with eight on the fixed wing and four on a V-stabilizer/rudder configuration. Aside from accent and decent these would tilt laterally and the blades fold back to reduce drag. Four additional fixed horizontal pusher props on the wing and stabilizer tips would be utilized for cruising. The vehicle would have been all electric and designed to carry two passengers. Joby has discontinued the S2, using data derived from it and its Lotus demonstrator to work on its four passenger Joby S4. In May, 2018 the Vertical Flight Society presented Joby Aviation’s CEO, JoeBen Bevirt, its Paul E. Haueter Award (given for an outstanding technical contribution to the field of VTOL aircraft development other than a helicopter or an operational vertical flight aircraft) for successfully demonstrating the world’s first high-speed multi-passenger electric VTOL aircraft.   Resources: Search eVTOL news posts Website: Joby Aviation U.S. Patent: Aerodynamically efficient lightweight vertical take-off and landing aircraft with pivoting rotors and stowing rotor blades, March 18, 2014 Article: Air Mobility Bonanza Beckons Electric VTOL Developers, Vertiflite, March 1, 2017 Article: The Demand for On-Demand Mobility, Vertiflite, January 1, 2017 Article: Lift Where You Need It, Vertiflite, November 1, 2016 Article: The Joby S2 VTOL Concept, Vertiflite, November 1, 2014 Article: AHS International Leads Transformative Vertical Flight Initiative, eVTOL News, November 1, 2014 Tags: Joby, Vectored Thrust, Initial Design, Defunct, 2 Passengers, Electric/Batteries, Autonomous, VFS Member

Joby S4 Featured Image

Joby S4

S4 Joby Aviation Santa Cruz, California, USA The Joby Aviation S4 is a four-seat electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing Vehicle using six vector thrust propellers on fixed wings and stabilizers. Joby Aviation has been relatively secret with its S4 aircraft. It is believed to be a continuation of the Joby S2 design. Some few computer images of the S4 presented at the 2nd Annual AHS Transformative Vertical Flight Workshop held at the NASA Ames Research Center in July 2016. At the 2019 Vertical Flight Society’s sixth annual eVTOL Symposium Joby revealed additional information and initial performance details of test flights of scale and full sized demonstrators. The S4 is configured with six tilting and folding blade propellers, four of which project forward from pylons on a 35-ft. (10.7) span high-wing and two that cantilever forward from a V-tail. A Distributed Electric Propulsion System (leveraged by NASA’s LEAPTech demonstrations) are powered by lithium-nickel-cobalt-manganese-oxide batteries, provides a range of 150 miles (241 km). The vehicle employs a unified flight control system to reduce pilot workload during the conversion to and from VTOL to horizontal flight mode. “In a demonstration for Bloomberg News, the S4 completed a piloted test flight that included a vertical takeoff, 15 minutes of flight along a 15 mile (24.1 km) course, and a controlled landing.” Joby was honored in May 2018 with the Vertical Flight Society’s Paul E. Haueter Award, given for an outstanding technical contribution to the field of VTOL aircraft development other than a helicopter or an operational vertical flight aircraft was awarded to JoeBen Bevirt, the founder and chief executive officer of Joby Aviation Inc., for successfully demonstrating the world’s first high-speed multi-passenger electric VTOL aircraft. According to the FAA Aircraft Registry, the aircraft has the registration N541JA, and the model number is JAS4-101 and the serial number is JAS4-1 (Joby Aircraft S4, aircraft number 1). The test vehicle is named Rachel. Joby was initially funded by JoeBen Bevirt, Paul Sciarra and others. Series A and Series B investments have now reached $130M. In January of 2017, Joby Aviation received $970,000 from the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), a Pentagon organization that focuses on implementing cutting-edge technology into the U.S. Military. Joby’s efforts are backed by at least five large investors (Capricorn Investment Group, Intel Capital, JetBlue Technology Ventures, and Toyota AI Ventures). At the VFS 6th Annual Electric VTOL Symposium on Jan. 29, 2019, Joby noted that the company had “Successfully flown subscale and full scale demonstrators” and provided the following details on the S4: Safety assurance in EXCESS of CS-23 cert requirements Unified flight control – extremely simple vehicle operations (SVO) All electric CTOL/VTOL 200 mph cruise 150 mile range 100x quieter than a helicopter Joby Aviation is also working on a five-seat version …

Joby S2 top view

The Joby S2 VTOL Concept

The Joby S2 VTOL Concept Exploring the New Degrees of Design Freedom of Distributed Electric Propulsion By Mark Moore Vertiflite, Nov-Dec 2014 Despite more than 70 years of vertical flight development, there are only three operational types of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft today: helicopters, the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor and the AV-8B Harrier jump jet. It could be argued that VTOL aircraft went through its period of rapid experimentation, and like commercial transports, settled on the configuration that offered the best approach. It could also be argued that the technologies that have developed over the past 40 years (composites, digital avionics, lightweight propulsion, etc.) have simply enabled the same approaches to be better. But a question that’s quickly intriguing many VTOL aircraft design experts is whether the emerging electric propulsion technologies require us to fundamentally question which configuration approach offers the best value proposition for civil and military mission capabilities. The New Technology Frontiers Over the past decade, there’s been amazing progress in autonomy and electric propulsion technologies. It’s natural for us to see some of these proposed self-driving cars and think – if this can be done in very cluttered ground environments -how much easier it would be to implement in the air with small aircraft. We also see cars using electric propulsion technologies to achieve improvements in efficiency of ~50%, so naturally we should be asking if we can achieve similar improvements with aircraft. Hybrid electric technologies in particular make tremendous sense when there’s a large mismatch in power required between a short-term power and cruise rating (i.e., rapid acceleration versus highway cruise for automobiles). VTOL aircraft experience this same power mismatch, which makes them prime candidates for this technology application. You may look at these technologies and say that they’re not there yet, but one thing that’s certain – they’re improving very rapidly. In fact, they’re progressing at a pace at which aerospace manufacturers aren’t acclimated. And that’s why companies such as Joby Aviation are stepping in to explore the opportunities these new technologies offer for new configuration approaches that better align with civil VTOL transportation needs. Electric propulsion offers new characteristics that reciprocating and turbine engines don’t provide: the opportunity to distribute the integration of propulsors across the airframe. This is a result of electric motors providing essentially the same power to weight and efficiency independent of the size of the motor, while maintaining highly compact and reliable motors that don’t require the installation burdens of air-breathing engines. These motors are essentially insensitive to altitude and temperature changes, offer the same power at high altitude cruise as at takeoff, and have the ability to provide instant full torque without warm-up, as well as the ability to provide full power across a wide rpm range. None …

The Potential of eCTOL

The Potential of eCTOL Electric Conventional Take-Off and Landing Aircraft Take Off! By Nicolas Zart Vertiflite, September/October 2019 While essentially all of the news on electric aviation in Vertiflite has focused on electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, developments of electric conventional take-off and landing (eCTOL) airplanes have recently accelerated. Airbus and Boeing Electric Airplanes Big aviation players have already struck strategic alliances with aerospace startups in addition to developing their aircraft. Boeing and Airbus, for instance, are hedging their urban air mobility (UAM) bets with both eVTOL and eCTOL projects. At larger scales, electrifying airplanes is a complex topic that can only be achieved slowly, progressively, until battery energy density improves enough to allow for greater payloads and range. In the meantime, electric power is picking up ancillary systems and removing heavier hydraulic, pneumatic, and other traditional systems in “more-electric aircraft.” The Boeing 787, for example, pioneered many electric systems for commercial airline use, including its lithium-ion battery system. As far as eCTOL, Boeing — with JetBlue and much fanfare — invested millions of dollars into Zunum Aero in 2017 to build a 12-seat, hybrid-electric aircraft for short-haul passenger service. However, today Zunum has all-but folded. Boeing has Uber Elevate partner Aurora Flight Sciences as a subsidiary and teamed with Kitty Hawk for its Cora eVTOL program, but does not appear to have an active eCTOL program underway. The Airbus E-Fan  also has a history that puts the electric air-mobility race in perspective. After teaming with Siemens on early demonstration projects, Airbus developed its all-electric, all-composite E-Fan two-seater. The Airbus E-Fan first flew in 2014 and the company began designing production versions. Airbus also planned a 90-seat regional jet, the E-Thrust, but each of these projects were abandoned. Instead, Airbus started the E-Fan X project in November 2017 as an eCTOL testbed for the European Commission’s Flightpath 2050 initiative. Airbus, along with partners Rolls-Royce and Siemens, are converting a British Aerospace BAe 146 regional jet to hybrid-electric power. However, in June, Siemens sold its electric aircraft propulsion unit to Rolls-Royce, thus signaling a shift in the electric aviation Tier 1 supply chain. Airbus is also working on a smaller hybrid design. The Airbus Ecopulse  is a French team effort with aircraft manufacturer Daher and turbine producer Safran. Safran will develop the distributed hybrid system and converting the single-engine Daher TBM into a hybrid platform. The system consists of a turbine and power generator (together, a “turbogenerator”), an electric power management system, and integrated electric propellers. The aircraft itself will be modified with reduced wing surface area and drag. Airbus will handle aerodynamic optimization of the propulsion system and high-energy-density batteries installation. Daher will handle the installation of components and systems, flight testing, regulatory approvals and construction. Airbus also …

Electric Aircraft Symposium 2019 Synopsis

The Vertical Flight Society co-sponsored the CAFE Foundation’s 13th Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium, held July 20-21, 2019, at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. EAS 2019 was held in conjunction with the Experimental Aviation Association’s annual AirVenture in Oshkosh, July 22-28 (see eVTOL News from AirVenture). Two dozen of the world’s leading electric aircraft developers and technology experts spoke at EAS 2019, all of which are available for free viewing in 26 videos on the VFS YouTube Channel. Don’t have time to watch all the videos? We’ve summarized the key points for each speaker, below, under the link to each video. EAS 2019 #1 – Yolanka Wulff & Mike Hirschberg – Introduction & The Electric VTOL Revolution INTRODUCTION & STATE OF THE INDUSTRY SESSION Yolanka Wulff, Executive Director, CAFE Foundation Mike Hirschberg, Executive Director, Vertical Flight Society Yolanka Wulff, Executive Director of the CAFE Foundation welcomed speakers and guests to the 13th Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium (EAS) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on July 20-21, 2019. VFS Executive Director Mike Hirschberg spoke about “The VTOL Revolution” and what the VFS has been doing to advance the eVTOL industry and technology, and become the de facto industry eVTOL society. As of July 2019, more than 50 VFS corporate members are now engaged in eVTOL aircraft development and the VFS added the 191st eVTOL aircraft program to its authoritative World eVTOL Aircraft Directory. The Directory provides comprehensive information on 67 Vectored Thrust, 26 Lift + Cruise, 46 Wingless (Multicopters), 38 Hover Bikes/Flying Devices, and 14 eHelos & eGyros aircraft. Hirschberg explained why eVTOL development is surging today and how the challenges are similar to those the pioneers of the US helicopter industry faced in 1943 when the VFS (then known as the American Helicopter Society) was established to advance the technology and acceptance of the helicopter and create a robust vertical flight technical community. EAS 2019 #2 – Ryan Naru – UberAir eVTOL Concepts STATE OF THE INDUSTRY SESSION Ryan Naru, Vehicle Standards Engineer, Uber Elevate Naru began his presentation by outlining what Uber is looking for in an eVTOL aircraft for its Elevate aerial ride share network. The Uber Elevate white paper was released in October 2016 and signaled Uber’s intent to be a “motivator in this industry” which was followed by the first Uber Elevate conference in April 2017. In 2018, Uber began using its “flux” data tool to understand how commuter traffic flows through cities and released its eVTOL vehicle requirements to partner OEMs. In July 2019, Uber Copter started multi-modal helicopter service linking Manhattan with JFK Airport. The first UberAir eVTOL demonstration flights are scheduled to begin in 2020 with initial certified operations expected in 2023. The company plans to expand and optimize its network by 2026, and then increase scale as second …

13th Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium Lands in Oshkosh

July 10, 2019 Contact: Yolanka Wulff, JD Executive Director, CAFE Foundation or 206.660.8498 PRESS RELEASE  13th Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium Lands in Oshkosh CAFE Foundation and Vertical Flight Society Co-Host Event Prior to EAA AirVenture Two dozen of the world’s leading electric aircraft developers and technology experts will be speaking at the CAFE Foundation’s 13th Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium (EAS) at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, on July 20-21 — the weekend prior to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) AirVenture 2019. The CAFE Foundation and Vertical Flight Society have been working to advance electric aviation for many years and have partnered again for this year’s EAS. Electric and hybrid electric powered aircraft have the potential to significantly reduce air transportation costs, carbon emissions and community noise. “The electric-powered aircraft industry is gaining momentum and the Symposium provides an opportunity to get a comprehensive brief on the state of the industry and meet the top leaders before EAA AirVenture begins,” said Yolanka Wulff, Executive Director of the non-profit CAFE Foundation. “In 2007, CAFE Foundation organized the world’s first Electric Aircraft Symposium to address emerging interest in electric propulsion, along with energy and climate issues. These meetings helped create the industry you see today.” For example, since the 12th EAS in 2018, four regular participants — Ampaire, Bye Aerospace, Eviation and magniX — have all announced significant aircraft orders or commitments from customers in the flight training, regional airline, business aviation and recreational aircraft markets. Registration for the 13th Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium can be found on the CAFE Foundation’s website: “Advances in technology have initiated what we call ‘The Electric VTOL Revolution,’” said Mike Hirschberg, Executive Director of the Vertical Flight Society. “Today, we are seeing major international aerospace companies, Silicon Valley tech companies and other startups developing eVTOL aircraft, including Uber’s ambitious Elevate program to operate thousands of eVTOL air taxis (developed by VFS members) for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) applications. Electric aviation has the potential to transform society.” This year’s EAS speakers include the following: Yolanka Wulff, Executive Director, CAFE Foundation Mike Hirschberg, Executive Director, Vertical Flight Society Ryan Naru, Vehicle Standards Engineer, Uber Technologies Willi Tacke, Founder and Organizer, e-flight-expo; CEO, Flying Pages GmbH Gilles Rosenberger, CEO, Faraday Aerospace Todd Hodges, Engineer (Retired), NASA Langley Research Center Tom Gunnarson, Lead of Regulatory Affairs, Kitty Hawk Gregory Bowles, Head of Government Affairs, Joby Aviation Kevin Noertker, Co-Founder & CEO, Ampaire George Bye, CEO, Bye Aerospace Omer Bar-Yohay, Co-Founder & CEO, Eviation Bruno Mombrinie, Founder & CEO, Metro Hop Rob Bulaga, President, Trek Aerospace David Ullman, Emeritus Professor Mechanical Design, Oregon State University In 2007, CAFE Foundation hosted the first electric aircraft symposium in North America. In 2011, the Foundation managed NASA’s Green Flight Challenge, which was funded by Google. …

Hirschberg @ Forum 75, May 14, 2019

Commentary: VFS Expands Support to eVTOL

VFS Expands Support to eVTOL By Mike Hirschberg, VFS Executive Director Vertiflite, July/August 2019 Electric/hybrid-electric propulsion enables new vertical flight aircraft configurations that have tremendous potential — but also significant challenges — to bring a radical transformation of air transportation for unmanned package delivery, unmanned logistics, personal air travel, air taxis, urban air mobility (UAM), regional air mobility (RAM) and many other missions. The Vertical Flight Society was the first major organization in the world — other than the pioneering companies themselves — to recognize and embrace the potential of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. We began covering electric vertical flight aircraft in Vertiflite in 2012 and held the world’s first workshop on electric/hybrid-electric “Transformative Vertical Flight” aircraft in 2014. We started our eVTOL newsletter in 2016 and our dedicated website,, in early 2017 when there were only about a dozen known eVTOL designs in development. The eVTOL website now includes over 200 news articles and more than 175 aircraft are profiled in our World eVTOL Aircraft Directory. Today, nearly every aerospace organization, drone developer and automotive company is looking at the market possibilities engendered by electric propulsion for vertical flight. The number of conferences around the world highlighting eVTOL, electric aviation and UAM continues to grow. In addition to our own eVTOL Newsletter, the two top international helicopter magazines launched eVTOL newsletters in June. But VFS doesn’t just report on news and host conferences. As the global non-profit organization working to advance vertical flight, we have a key role in educating the world about the transformative potential of eVTOL aircraft. Our reason for existing is to support our current and future members, so they can be as successful as possible. Accordingly, we are doubling down on our support to eVTOL with additional personnel, eVTOL workshops and partnerships, and educational resources. Additional Personnel VFS corporate membership has grown by more than 10% a year for the past four years in a row to nearly 120 members, with more than 70 known to be working on eVTOL. As we grow, we are growing our support. In January, Rex Alexander, President of Five-Alpha LLC, began consulting for the Society as the VFS Advisor for VTOL Infrastructure. Rex has more than 35 years of experience as a civil, military and air ambulance helicopter pilot/mechanic and VTOL infrastructure advisor. In May, VFS hired Jim Sherman as the Society’s Director of Strategic Development (see Vertiflite, July/August 2019, pg. 68), responsible for setting and executing the Society’s strategy for promoting membership development and growth. Jim in particular is responsible for supporting eVTOL and expanding the Society’s membership and services in this fast-growing market segment. At Forum 75, VFS officially recognized a provisional Electric VTOL Technical Committee, led by University of Maryland’s Prof. Anubhav Datta …

Uber Elevate Summit 2019 (Corgan)

Uber Elevate Summit 2019 Agenda

Uber held its third annual summit on June 11-12 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. According to the company, “The Uber Elevate Summit brought together 1200+ attendees for 2 days of technical sessions, hands-on demos, and evening networking events.” This page is a web capture from, June 2019. Day 1 (June 11, 2019) 9:00 AM: MC: Welcome to the 2019 Uber Elevate Summit Welcome address for the third annual Elevate Summit and look-ahead to 2 action-packed days from Elevate’s Head of Product and Summit MC, Nikhil Goel. Nikhil Goel Head of Product, Elevate | Master of Ceremonies Uber 9:15 AM: Keynote: Urban Air Mobility – Closer Than You Think Nearly 3 years since the publication of the Elevate Whitepaper, the future of on-demand urban aviation is closer than we ever thought. Hear the Head of Elevate, Eric Allison, and Elevate executives Nikhil Goel and Stan Swaintek detail our plans for 2019 and beyond as we look to collaborating with government and industry to knock down the most critical barriers—building and beginning to certify electric VTOLs, integrating a robust airspace management system, and making multimodal aerial ridesharing accessible to all—in pursuit of imminent vehicle demonstrations and launching a commercial air-taxi service over the next 4 years. Watch Recording Eric Allison Head of Elevate Uber Nikhil Goel Head of Product, Elevate Uber Stan Swaintek Director of Operations, Elevate Uber 10:10 AM: Keynote: UAM Regulatory Path to Market Uber is thrilled to be working with the FAA and regulatory bodies all around the world to ensure that together, we are ready to deploy urban air taxis in a way that is safe, scalable, and collaborative with all levels of government. Kate Fraser, Uber’s Head of Aviation Policy, will showcase the regulatory path to market for urban air mobility (UAM) in top Uber regions globally, as well as the encouraging progress the industry has made to date. Watch Recording Kate Fraser Head of Aviation Policy, Elevate Uber 10:25 AM: Panel: Urban Aviation in the US Since announcing our first 2 Uber Elevate launch cities of Dallas and Los Angeles, we’ve made significant collaborative inroads as an industry across the US government. Hear our regulatory partners across the FAA, US Department of Transportation, and NASA discuss their approach to certifying new aviation technologies for safe operation here in the United States. The discussion will touch on key aspects of eVTOL aircraft certification, pilot training, urban ridesharing flight operations, UAS Traffic Management (UTM), and particularly on the collaborative work being done between industry and regulators to ensure new technologies are thoughtfully and safely integrated into existing regulatory frameworks. Watch Recording Moderator: Kate Fraser Head of Aviation Policy, Elevate Uber Pete Bunce President & CEO General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) …