DALLAS – Joby Aviation has gained the requisite certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to commence on-demand commercial air taxi operations.
While this is an important step toward Joby’s stated aim of commercializing its electric aerial ridesharing service in 2024, the company still has a long way to go before it can transport passengers in its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles.
The Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate the company got this week is only one of three FAA certifications it will need to operate its eVTOLs as air taxis across the United States; the other two are a Type Certificate and a Production Certificate.
Part 135 is a certificate required by the FAA for a company to operate as a non-scheduled air charter carrier. It encompasses a section of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) that establishes safe operating procedures and policies for on-demand jet charters.
Joby, a publicly-traded electric air vehicle startup with a market capitalization of US$3.1bn, has only developed two prototype vehicles.
Uber in the Skies
According to a TechCrunch report, Joby will use the Part 135 certificate “to exercise the operations and customer technology platforms that will underpin our multi-modal ride-sharing service, while also refining our procedures to ensure safe and seamless journeys for our customers.” This means the eVTOL company will begin testing the back-end technology needed to operate what will be an Uber-like ride-hail service in the skies.
Joby has been developing technology that allows pilots to see where their next ride will come from, similar to how Uber drivers can see who they’ll be picking up next. A spokeswoman for Joby told TechCrunch that once the consumer app is completed, the business will begin testing it with staff, followed by a customer pilot.
While Joby has formed collaborations with SK Telecom of South Korea and ANA of Japan to provide commercial air taxi services in both countries, the company’s initial launch is planned for the United States.
Featured image: Joby Aviation eVTOL aircraft prototype. Photo: Joby Aviation