Whether you call them air taxis, flying cars or electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) craft, it seems like this next step in transportation is always just a bit further over the horizon than expected. For one company, a new Federal Aviation Administration approval brings them one step closer to commercial reality.
Joby Aviation, a California-based company, announced this week that it received a Part 135 air carrier certification from the FAA. This certification allows the company to begin its commercial air taxi service, which it hopes will happen in 2024.
The Part 135 air carrier certification is an important step, but it’s only one part of a three-part equation required for the business to be fully operational. The company still needs type certification, which means its aircraft adheres to all FAA standards, as well as production certification, which allows the company to begin manufacturing for commercial use.
Joby will operate eVTOL craft for its business operations. It will accommodate a pilot and four passengers for up to 150 miles on a single battery charge, at speeds up to 200 mph. Motive force comes from six different rotors, which will pivot to transition the craft from vertical takeoff to level flight. It should be pretty quiet, too; according to Joby, recent acoustic testing with NASA resulted in takeoff and landing readings of 65 A-weighted decibels, about that of a normal conversation, from a distance of 100 meters.
No company has yet to receive the full FAA blessing for an eVTOL air-taxi service, but Joby Aviation is trying hard to ensure it’s among the first. The company built its first subscale demonstration craft in 2015, followed by full-scale prototypes in 2017. Preproduction prototypes surfaced in 2019, but the company has been busy outside of its own doors, as well. In early 2020, Toyota AI Ventures announced, and later that year, , Uber’s fledgling air-taxi division. Last year, Joby released its first video .