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Joby Aviation S4 (production prototype)

Joby Aviation S4 (production prototype) eVTOL passenger aircraft on June 28, 2023 (Photo credit: Joby Aviation)

 

S4 (production prototype)
Joby Aviation
Santa Cruz, California, USA
www.jobyaviation.com

Founded in 2009 by JoeBen Bevirt, CEO and Chief Engineer, 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) passenger aircraft for fast, quiet, and affordable on-demand air taxi services for the advanced air mobility (AAM) industry. Bevirt also founded the company Joby, which sells camera, mobile phone and lighting accessories and other consumer products. It has been reported that Joby Aviation has 1,422 employees as of January 2023. According to one website, Joby Aviation has raised over $2 billion USD in funding as of June 30, 2023. (Photo credit: Joby Aviation)

Joby Aviation S4 (production prototype) passenger eVTOL aircraft
On June 28, 2023, Joby Aviation revealed to the world its new Joby Aviation S4 (production prototype) passenger eVTOL aircraft, tail number N5421A. The ceremony took place in Marina, California, USA with JoeBen Bevirt, Joby CEO and Chief Engineer and Tetsuo “Ted” Ogawa, President and CEO of Toyota Motor North America, who recently joined Joby’s board of directors. The S4 production prototype eVTOL aircraft is Joby’s third full-scale aircraft as of June 2023 and the company plans to offer on-demand air taxi service to the public. According to FAA records, the aircraft was built in 2022. Joby Aviation has revealed they have flown more than 30,000 miles with their three full-scale prototype eVTOL aircraft from 2017 to June 2023.

The aircraft holds a one pilot, four passengers and has amble room for luggage. The aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of 200 mph (322 km/h) and has a range of 100 miles (161 km) including energy reserves. Approximate weights of the aircraft are as follows, an empty weight of 4,300 lb (1,950 kg), a maximum payload of 1,000 lb (453 kg) and has a maximum takeoff weight of 5,300 lb (2,404 kg). The aircraft has six tilt-propellers. Four of the propellers tilt vertically including the entire electric motor nacelle. The two propellers tilt vertically with a linkage mechanism. The aircraft also boasts six high performance dual wound electric motors powered with batteries. According to the company, the aircraft delivers a peak power of almost twice the Tesla Model S Plaid automobile. The Model S Plaid has the quickest acceleration of any vehicle in production, according to Tesla.

The Joby Aviation S4 (production prototype) received a special airworthiness certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allowing the aircraft to operate in U.S. airspace with certain restrictions. According to Bevirt, the pilot manufacturing line could build several tens of aircraft per year and Joby is working on selecting a manufacturing site to build hundreds of aircraft each year. Bevirt stated air taxi service with his aircraft will be competitively priced to the cost of ground transportation but travel five times faster and with a much better experience for the passenger.

Agility Prime contract with the U.S. Air Force
Joby Aviation has an Agility Prime contract with the U.S. Air Force and is worth up to $131 million USD. After initial flight testing and securing military airworthiness certification, two aircraft will be sent to Edwards Air Force Base (Kern County, California, USA) by March 2024.

Delivery of the S4 aircraft to the U.S. Air Force
On September 25, 2023, Joby Aviation delivered its first eVTOL aircraft to the U.S. Air Force's Edwards Air Force Base, six months ahead of the original expected delivery date. This is first of nine Joby eVTOL aircraft to be delivered to the U.S. Air Force as part of a $131 million contract under the U.S. military's Agility Prime program. Joby plans to deliver a second eVTOL aircraft by early 2024. Joby foresees this aircraft delivery to the U.S. Air Force will be a catalyst for the FAA to award an airworthiness certificate to Joby Aviation. There will now be multiple flight tests with the aircraft to demonstrate the ability of the aircraft to fly passengers and cargo safely to their destination in a military mission setting.

Joby Aviation stated this is the first eVTOL air taxi aircraft to be stationed on a U.S. military base and they believe it is the first eVTOL aircraft to be delivered to a customer in the United States. The aircraft was sling-loaded by a helicopter from Joby Aviation's headquarters to Edwards Air Force Base because the aircraft did not have FAA authorization to fly across California.

First crewed flight of Joby S4 2.0b eVTOL passenger aircraft in New York City, November 12, 2023
The first crewed flight of the Joby S4 2.0b (tail number N542BJ) eVTOL passenger aircraft in New York City took place on Sunday, November 12, 2023. The exhibition flight took off from the downtown heliport in Manhattan marking the first ever eVTOL flight in the city and the first time that Joby Aviation has flown their aircraft in an urban city. Mayor Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, stated it was the intention of the city to electrify the heliport and for the city to be a global leader of clean and quiet air taxi flight.

Joby Aviation and Delta Airlines are in partnership to provide air taxi service from Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport and  LaGuardia International Airport. By car, the trip from Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport takes approximately an hour and is estimated to take only seven minutes by air taxi service. Joby Aviation and Delta Airlines are working with the Port Authority of New York and the New York City Economic Development Corporation to make this happen.

Expected air taxi service target date
The Joby Aviation S4 eVTOL passenger and cargo production prototype is not expected to be certified for commercial operations until 2025 and the company is planning to start air taxi service in U.S. cities such as Los Angeles and New York City in 2025.

Bevirt and Newsom with the Joby Aviation S4 (production prototype) eVTOL passenger aircraft, June 2023 (Photo credit: Joby Aviation)

Bevirt and Newsom with the Joby Aviation S4 (production prototype) eVTOL passenger aircraft, June 2023 (Photo credit: Joby Aviation)

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: Passenger eVTOL aircraft
  • Piloting: 1 pilot
  • Capacity: 4 passengers
  • Maximum cruise speed: 200 mph (322 km/h)
  • Range: 100 miles (161 km), including energy reserves
  • Empty weight (approximately): 4,300 lb (1,950 kg)
  • Maximum payload (approximately): 1,000 lb (453 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff weight (approximately): 5,300 lb (2,404 kg)
  • Propellers: 6 tilt-prop, 4 propellers tilt vertically including the entire electric motor nacelle, 2 propellers tilt vertically with a linkage mechanism
  • Electric motors: 6 high performance dual wound electric motors
  • Power source: Batteries
  • Noise Footprint: 45 dBA in cruise
  • Peak Power: 236 kW per electric motor
  • Weight of Dual-Wound Motor Plus Inverter: 28 kg
  • Peak Torque: 1,237 lbft (pound-feet) 1,800 Nm (newton-meters)
  • Continuous Torque: 1,027 lbft (1,380 Nm)
  • Cell-Level Specific Energy: 288 Wh/kg (watt-hour per kilogram)
  • Flight Cycles: 10,000 plus
  • Pack-Level Specific Energy: 235 Wh/kg
  • Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
  • Windows: Large windows for the entire cabin for spectacular views for the passengers
  • Tail: V-tail
  • Landing gear: Tricycle wheeled landing gear
  • Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one or more propellers (ducted fans) or motors fail, the other working propellers (or ducted fans) and motors can safely land the aircraft. There are also redundancies of critical components in the sub-systems of the aircraft.

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