Top Californian Air Taxi Maker Moves to Piloted Test Flights

Joby Kicked Its First Test Flight Campaign With a Pilot on Board 7 photos
Photo: Joby Aviation
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Joby Aviation couldn't be doing better than this – it secured a historic collaboration with the USAF for revolutionary testing of air taxis at a military base, it's gearing up to open a large-scale manufacturing center, and it successfully kicked off a pilot-on-board test campaign.
AAM (Advanced Air Mobility) is ushering in a new era for aviation, and many of the experts at the forefront of this historic process brought their expertise in various areas of standard aviation. Nobody knows both of these worlds, the current one and the future one, better than them, and no one is more qualified to compare them.

When someone like this praises "the simplicity and grace" of a particular eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing), it carries a certain weight. This is how James "Buddy” Denham described the experience of piloting the Joby aircraft. It was the pre-production prototype aircraft, and it happened during the Californian company's first flight testing campaign with a pilot on board.

Denham is currently Joby's chief test pilot after joining its ranks in 2019. According to Joby, he was instrumental in developing the future eVTOL's flight controls. Prior to that, Denham played a pivotal role in the development of the F-35B STOVL aircraft as an Esteemed Technical Fellow at NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command).

Today, Denham is helping pave the way towards zero-emission air mobility. He led Joby's first pilot-on-board campaign, during which four members of the flight test team got to experience what it's like to be in the cockpit of the Joby air taxi.

It took place at Joby's Pilot Production Facility in Marina, California. The pre-production prototype was put to the test with a focus on its control interfaces and easy maneuvering. Future eVTOL masters will need to master operations such as vertical takeoff, transitioning to forward flight and vertical landing.

This campaign is a long-awaited milestone following extensive uncrewed testing. Until now, all flight tests involved remotely piloted prototypes, with the help of a ground control station and the most advanced communications technology.

All of this is part of the Californian startup's journey toward the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) certification.

Recently, Joby also announced its plans to expand to Dayton, Ohio. This is where it will build a new facility that will roll out up to 500 electric aircraft per year in the not-so-distant future.

The location was strategically chosen for its closeness to the Dayton International Airport, the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and USAF's Research Laboratories. Plus, Joby has an important ace up its sleeve. Toyota, the automotive giant that helped it design its pilot production line in California, will also play a role in developing the new Ohio facility. If things go according to plan, the new production plant will start operating in 2025.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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