Tuesday, April 16, 2024

First-ever manned eVTOL air taxi flight takes off in New York City

Joby Aviation, a company developing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for commercial passenger service, unveiled how the future of all-electric aviation could look like during a test flight in Manhattan.

The company has successfully performed an exhibition flight in New York City, marking the first-ever electric air taxi flight in the city and the first time Joby has flown in an urban setting.

On Sunday, November 12th, Joby’s electric aircraft took off from the iconic Downtown Heliport in Manhattan, NY. NYC Mayor Eric Adams announced that the city is planning to electrify the heliport in support of the coming wave of clean, quiet electric air taxis. Joby’s flight in Manhattan was preceded by several test flights at the HHI Heliport in Kearny, New Jersey.

eVTOL aircraft have the potential to revolutionize urban transportation by providing a sustainable and efficient mode of travel. They offer quick and convenient flights over congested areas, promising to alleviate traffic while reducing noise pollution and cost.

Joby Aviation’s S4 eVTOL air taxi is a good example of this. The aircraft was designed to have a radically lower acoustic footprint than today’s helicopters, allowing it to operate in densely populated areas such as New York City without adding to the background noise.

In fact, NASA confirmed in 2022 that an S4 cruising at an altitude of 1,640 feet (500 meters) registered a noise level on the ground at just 45.2 A-weighted decibels (dBA). This is much lower than the average street noise in New York City, which was measured at 73.4 dBA across 99 sites in a 2015 study.

Joby had previously mentioned that it expects New York to be one of its early launch markets after receiving certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through its partnership with Delta Air Lines. The company plans to offer fast, quiet journeys using its piloted, four-passenger electric aircraft with zero operating emissions.

The aircraft is designed for rapid, back-to-back flights and can fly up to 100 miles (160 km) on one charge, covering 99% of all trips taken today across New York City’s five boroughs. Joby claims that its service will reduce the travel time from Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) from over an hour by car to just seven minutes by air.

“By electrifying one of the most famous heliports in the world, New York is demonstrating global leadership in the adoption of electric air travel. We’re grateful for the support of the city, and we’re honored to be working with visionary partners like Delta Air Lines to bring our air taxi service to this market,” said JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, in the press release. “We plan to make quiet, emissions-free flight an affordable, everyday reality for New Yorkers while significantly reducing the impact of helicopter noise.”

Joby Aviation has been conducting full-scale testing of its aircraft since 2017, flying thousands of miles under remote control and setting records for eVTOL speed and distance.

The company recently marked another milestone by delivering the first-ever electric air taxi to the US Air Force for on-base operational testing. Also, a few weeks ago, it celebrated the first manned aircraft to roll off its Pilot Production Plant in Marina, California.

Joby expects to launch its commercial passenger service in 2025.