Santa Cruz aviation company Joby on Monday became what is likely the first in the nation to deliver an air taxi designed for vertical takeoff and landing.
Joby Aviation delivered the aircraft to the U.S. Air Force at Edward Air Force Base as part of a $131 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense.
The delivery came six months ahead of its promised date, Joby said in a press release.
A second electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft is planned to be delivered to Edwards in early 2024.
With a range of up to 100 miles and a top speed of 200 mph, the Joby aircraft is capable of transporting a pilot and four passengers quickly and quietly with zero operating emissions, the company said.
The aircraft will be used for missions such as cargo and passenger transportation.
In addition, NASA will also use the aircraft for research on how eVTOL aircraft might someday be used for transportation nationwide.
Joby’s agreement with the Air Force—called the AFWERX Agility Prime contract—includes providing up to nine aircraft to the U.S. Air Force and other federal agencies.
AFWERX is the Air Force’s technology and innovation arm.
The aircraft was built on Joby’s Pilot Production Line in Marina. It will be stationed at Edwards Air Force Base for at least one year.
The U.S. Air Force and Joby will train its pilots and ground crew, and conduct joint flight testing and operations to get a feel of the aircraft’s capabilities in realistic mission settings. The year-long test run will give the U.S. military a sense of how it might incorporate eVTOL aircraft into its arsenal, and give Joby experience as the company prepares to launch commercial passenger service in 2025.
“We’re proud to join the ranks of revolutionary aircraft that first demonstrated their capabilities at Edwards Air Force Base,” said JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby.
Joby first partnered with the Department of Defense in 2016, when it granted both early funding and access to test ranges.
“The arrival of Joby’s aircraft at Edwards AFB is an important step towards achieving this objective,” said Col Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director and Chief Commercialization Officer for the Department of the Air Force.