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.
Expected air taxi service target date
Joby Aviation expects to start on-demand air taxi service in 2025.
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
Cell-Level Specific Energy: 288 W•h/kg (watt-hour per kilogram)
Flight Cycles: 10,000 plus
Pack-Level Specific Energy: 235 W•h/kg
Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
Windows: Large windows for the entire cabin for spectacular views for the passengers
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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