Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Joby to deliver two aircraft to MacDill Air Force Base in 2025

Joby Aviation is moving forward with its plans to develop electric air taxis for commercial passenger service. The company recently announced that it has won a contract from the U.S. Air Force to deliver two aircraft to MacDill Air Force Base in 2025.

MacDill AFB is home to several military units, including the U.S. Special Operations Command and the U.S. Central Command. The personnel stationed there will have the opportunity to test and train with the new aircraft, both on base and in the surrounding area.

Joby has already delivered its first aircraft to Edwards Air Force Base in California in September 2023, with a second one expected to be added this year. The Joby team is working closely with the 412th Test Wing at Edwards to conduct testing and experimentation that will inform future operational testing at MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida.

Joby’s Agility Prime contract also includes the provision of up to nine aircraft to the U.S. Air Force and other federal agencies. In fact, Joby was the first eVTOL developer to receive military airworthiness approval for its pre-production prototype aircraft in 2020.

Joby Aviation will work directly with DoD operational units at MacDill AFB. This marks the first time that Joby will partner with the DoD for representative logistics missions and testing use cases in personnel transport, casualty evacuation, and support of security forces. The eVTOL aircraft offered by Joby has demonstrated low maintenance requirements and operating costs, high speed, and a low acoustic footprint, making it suitable for a diverse array of DoD use cases.

Joby will continue to train USAF pilots, maintainers, and other government partners on this new category of electric aircraft.

“The early investment and vision by the US government in this critical technology is proving foundational as we continue our path toward commercial passenger service. We’re grateful to our partners at the Department of Defense for their ongoing support and continued leadership in adopting eVTOL technology,” said JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby. “We’re looking forward to working with units at MacDill Air Force Base as we further explore the potential use cases for our aircraft, demonstrating its capabilities in realistic settings.”

“This work will provide Joby with valuable early operational experience while providing the USAF with a firsthand understanding of the performance of our aircraft and its potential applications,” added Bevirt.

Joby’s electric air taxi can carry four passengers and a pilot at speeds of up to 200 mph. It offers high-speed mobility, produces a fraction of the noise of traditional helicopters, and has zero operating emissions, making it an environmentally friendly option.

Also, the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, and Army have shown interest in the aircraft for potential logistics, medical, and personnel transport applications and have even visited Joby’s manufacturing and flight test facilities for flight training and mission analysis.

“The Agility Prime team is very excited to progress through a novel acquisition approach,” said Lt Col John Tekell, Agility Prime Branch Chief. “These two aircraft at MacDill AFB allow the program to take the next steps in learning to maximize the operational opportunity of eVTOLs.”

Joby’s longstanding partnership with the Department of Defense (DoD) dates back to its 2016 engagement with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), which granted early funding and provided access to test ranges and expertise that have helped Joby develop its aircraft program. The company has since expanded its work with the DoD to include the AFWERX Agility Prime program, and its current and past work with the DoD represents the largest potential contract value in the industry, at $163 million.

In February, Joby announced that it had completed the third of five stages in the type certification process required by the Federal Aviation Administration for commercial service.