USAF Shares a Joby eVTOL With NASA, Test Flights to Begin at Edwards Air Force Base

There are many companies in the business of making electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, but none of them is yet in a position to brag about having an operational fleet anywhere in our skies. Yet this is a future that will happen, and one doesn't need anything more than NASA and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) saying so to be convinced that's true.
Joby Aviation eVTOL 8 photos
Photo: Joby/USAF
Joby Air TaxiJoby Air TaxiJoby Air TaxiJoby Air TaxiJoby Air TaxiJoby Air TaxiJoby Air Taxi
Both the space agency and the military branch just said so as they announced, together, the start of two separate research programs using the same Joby Aviation eVTOL, freshly delivered to the Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The base is where the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center is located, but also home to a military unit called Emerging Technologies Integrated Test Force (ET-ITF - part of the 412 Test Wing).

It was on September 25 when Joby delivered the aircraft to the base. The configuration of the machine for the task at hand is not exactly clear, but we do know what the company is making for the civilian market.

Joby's proposal for the future of urban transportation is an aircraft capable of carrying four people and a pilot under the power provided by six electric motors. They spin an equal number of propellers with 316 horsepower each, and can move with speeds of up to 200 mph (322 kph). The maximum range of the bird is 100 miles (161 km).

The test vehicle received at Edwards will be jointly used by NASA and the USAF. The space agency will fly it starting next year with its own pilots as a means to "evaluate how this kind of vehicle could be integrated into our skies for everyday use."

That doesn't only include commutes but also uses such as emergency response, fighting wildfires, and the delivery of medical supplies. NASA will not only focus on the aircraft's behavior in flight, but will also look into what's needed in terms of traffic management, flight procedures, and ground-based infrastructure.

The Air Force, on the other hand, will use its own ET-ITF people to research potential military applications of the eVTOL. It will do so starting immediately as part of a program called Agility Prime and run by AFWERX. That would be an effort meant to look into emerging technologies like vertical lift and new power sources (electric, hybrid, hydrogen).

Neither NASA nor the USAF said anything about when we should expect the first results of the flight tests, but this being a novel technology with a lot of PR potential, we expect to get updates at every turn and with any achievement. Especially given how a second Joby eVTOL is expected to be shipped to Edwards as part of a $131 million contract between the company and the USAF.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
About the author: Daniel Patrascu
Daniel Patrascu profile photo

Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories