Joby Aviation has received a Special Airworthiness Certificate for the first aircraft built at its pilot production line in Marina, California. Issued by the FAA, the certificate allows Joby to begin flight testing of its first production prototype.
The aircraft is expected to become the first ever eVTOL aircraft to be delivered to a customer when it moves to Edwards Air Force Base in 2024, to be operated by Joby as part of the company's Agility Prime contract with the US Air Force, worth up to $131 million.
Joby has been flying full size aircraft since 2017, and its pre-production prototype aircraft have flown more than 30,000 miles since 2019. Today's production prototype builds on that experience and marks another important step toward achieving FAA certification and production at scale.
Founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt says: “This achievement is the culmination of years of investment in our processes and technology, and it marks a major step on our journey to scaled production. We're proud to have launched production in our home state of California. I'm incredibly grateful to the Joby team for their commitment to ensuring Joby remains the clear leader in this new sector, and to Toyota for sharing its knowledge and experience with us over many years. Their support has been indispensable in helping us reach this point.”
Recognising the key role Toyota has played in the design of Joby's pilot production line, as well as in the production and assembly of the Joby aircraft, Tetsuo 'Ted' Ogawa, president and chief executive officer of Toyota Motor North America, joined more than 1,000 guests and team members at Joby's Marina facility to celebrate the launch of production.
Ogawa, who joins Joby's board of directors on 1 July, 2023 says: “We congratulate Joby on reaching this milestone and look forward to working ever more closely as Joby prepares to scale production and start operations.”
Toyota is Joby's largest external shareholder, having invested around $400 million. The two companies have worked closely together on a wide range of projects to support the development of the aircraft, including the design of engineering tools and the layout of the production facility. Dozens of Toyota engineers work side-by-side with the Joby team in California, and in April the two companies signed a long-term agreement for Toyota to supply key powertrain and actuation components for the production of Joby's aircraft.
“Ted is joining our team at a critical moment for the company as we roll the first aircraft off our pilot production line and look ahead to scaling manufacturing in the months and years to come,” adds Bevirt. “Toyota has been instrumental in helping us reach this milestone, and its decades-long history of manufacturing quality, reliability and scalability have informed the world-class manufacturing facility and processes that Joby has built. We are honoured to welcome Ted to our board of directors.”
Ogawa oversees all business for Toyota's North America region. Previously, he was executive vice president and chief operating officer, and he has held positions including general manager, China division for Toyota and coordinator at New United Motor Manufacturing, a joint venture between General Motors and Toyota in California.
“It has been very rewarding for our engineering team to collaborate with Joby on manufacturing, an innovator in the emerging eVTOL space,” he says. “Joby has developed incredible technology that will transform air transportation as we know it, and I'm looking forward to working even more closely with the team as we seek to realise our mutual goal of mass production of an eVTOL aircraft and enable mobility for all.”
Ogawa will succeed Dr James Kuffner, CEO and representative director of Woven by Toyota, as the Toyota representative on Joby's board.
Joby has continued to build its board with industry expertise. Earlier this year, Michael Huerta, former FAA administrator and Delta board member, was appointed, joining Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and a partner at Greylock; Aicha Evans, CEO of Zoox; Dipender Saluja, managing director of Capricorn Investment Group; Halimah DeLaine Prado, general counsel of Google; and Laura Wright, former CFO of Southwest Airlines. The board is chaired by Paul Sciarra, co-founder of Pinterest.
Joby's production prototype aircraft has been manufactured in accordance with a released design and built according to a complete implementation of a quality management system, an important step on the path to achieving the FAA type certification, required to begin commercial passenger operations that are planned for 2025. It also recently partnered with Delta Air Lines to provide Delta customers with transport to and from airports.