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Joby Aviation S4 1.0 (technology demonstrator)

Joby Aviation S4 1.0 (Generation 1) eVTOL full-scale uncrewed technology demonstrator


S4 1.0 (technology demonstrator)
Joby Aviation
Santa Cruz, California, USA

Founded in 2009 by JoeBen Bevirt, Joby Aviation is a venture-backed startup aerospace company is located in Santa Cruz and San Carlos, California (USA), that is developing and will manufacture piloted all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for fast, quiet, and affordable air taxi services. The company combines elements of helicopters and small airplanes, offering benefits that include high reliability, zero emissions, fast flight speeds, quiet operations, lower operating costs, lower costs of maintenance, and enhanced safety features. Their projects include a Joby subscale prototype, the Joby Monarch, the Joby Lotus, the Joby S2 and the Joby S4 2.0 prototype aircraft.

Bevirt studied mechanical engineering and robotics at the University of California, Davis and Stanford University. Bevirt worked for one of the pioneers of VTOL aircraft, Paul Moller. Moller created the Skycar which was featured on the front cover of Popular Mechanics in 1991. Bevirt is a prolific inventor creating a diverse range of commodities, from making useful consumer products, to LED lights, electric motors, eVTOL aircraft and more. In 2006, Bevirt founded the consumer products company called Joby (his childhood name) that made the knobby GorillaPod adjustable tripod for cameras and cellphones that proved to be extremely popular and sold the company the next year. He started a robotics company, Velocity11, that became “wildly successful” building DNA sequencing robots. He sold the robotics company in 2011 to Agilent Technologies, a spinoff of Hewlett-Packard.

Joby Aviation has been relatively secret with its S4 aircraft, but it was derived from the Joby S2 design. Some few computer images of the S4 were presented at the 2nd Annual AHS Transformative Vertical Flight Workshop held at the NASA Ames Research Center in August 2015. At the Vertical Flight Society’s 6th Annual eVTOL Symposium in January 2019, Joby revealed additional information and initial performance details of test flights of scale and full-sized demonstrators. On Jan. 15, 2020, they revealed full scale pictures of their S4 eVTOL aircraft (see above and directly below) and additional specifications about their aircraft, the use of the aircraft and their company.

Joby Aviation S4 1.0 (technology demonstrator) remotely piloted eVTOL aircraft
The above photo above is of the Joby S4 1.0 (Generation 1) full-scale remotely piloted eVTOL technology demonstrator aircraft. The S4 1.0 has no windows and does not carry pilots or passengers but has the space for four seats. The above photo is dated Sept. 13, 2017 and is most likely a picture of the aircraft’s first full conversion to wingborne flight, following its first hover flight in April 2017. The company has stated they had flown over 200 flights with the Joby S4 1.0 aircraft.

The Joby Generation 1.0 prototype was officially registered with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a Joby Aero, Inc. model JAS4-1 in September 2017 (registration N541JA, serial JAS4-101), but the existence of the prototype was not widely known until the company announced on Feb. 1, 2018 that it had secured $100M in Series B funding. -Joby Transitions, Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2021

The aircraft has one high main wing, has a V-tail and was painted white or off-white. The aircraft has six tilt-propellers and six electric motors. Four tilt-propellers are on the main high-wing and two tilt-propellers are located on the top of the V-tail. The above picture shows the propellers are arranged on the wings and tail similar to the S4 2.0 (Generation 2) aircraft. The aircraft has fixed tricycle wheeled landing gear. It appears to have a rear post angled downward to prevent tail strikes.

Generation 1.0 transitioned from hover to forward flight in 2017 — the world's first full-scale vectored thrust eVTOL transition — and flew more than 200 times before the company completed the Generation 2.0 as a pre-production prototype outfitted with a pilot’s cockpit and a four-seat passenger compartment. -Joby Transitions, Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2021

According to several news articles in 2017, the Joby S4 1.0 was the first full-scale eVTOL aircraft in the world to demonstrate transition flight successfully. The aircraft was flown with some of the tilt-propeller nacelles either open or partially open and the inside mechanical components can be seen when looking at the aircraft. The word experimental was painted in black and in all capitals in a small type size on the front of the fuselage. The FAA tail number was painted in large bold black type on the tail of the fuselage, the tail number being N541JA. Little information has been released about the aircraft flight specifications such as it's cruise speed, cruise altitude and range. If the specifications has been published for this aircraft, they are apparently not online or difficult to find online.


  • Aircraft type: eVTOL full-scale technology demonstrator
  • Pilot: Remotely piloted
  • Passengers: 0 people, no seats and no windows (The aircraft could hold 4 passengers if 4 seats were installed inside the aircraft)
  • Propellers: 6 tilt-propellers
  • Motors: 6 electric motors
  • Power source: Batteries
  • Fuselage: Composite
  • Windows: No windows
  • Tail: V-tail
  • Landing gear: Fixed tricycle wheeled landing gear
  • Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), if one of two motors stop working, the aircraft can make an emergency landing and land safely; redundancy of critical components; can land like an airplane if necessary; has reserve battery power if there is an unexpected delayed when landing

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