National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has started the flight testing of an all-electric air taxi. The Joby Aviation’s aircraft is being tested by the space agency as part of the agency’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign.
NASA has started testing a future air taxi that might soon be flying cargo and passengers in busy cities, helping to ease annoying traffic jams.
The all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, designed by California startup Joby Aviation, is a helicopter powered by six rotors. It was designed to be as quiet as possible in order to fit into busy city life without disturbing residents.
Joby Aviation’s all-electric vertical takeoff and landing has already performed over 1,000 test flights.
During the two-week test campaign, which is part of the space agency’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign, NASA and Joby Aviation will fly the aircraft at Joby’s Electric Flight Base near Big Sur, California. NASA engineers will focus especially on measuring the noise produced by the helicopter in order to gather data that would help lay a foundation for a future regulatory framework governing the use of such vehicles in cities.
As the Joby aircraft flies planned test scenarios, the NASA team will collect information about how the vehicle moves, how the vehicle sounds, and how the vehicle communicates with controllers. Future partners will fly similar scenarios to evaluate their vehicle readiness.
The team will deploy the mobile acoustics facility and construct an array of more than 50 microphones to measure the acoustic profile of Joby’s aircraft in different phases of flight.
“NASA’s AAM National Campaign is critical to driving scientific understanding and public acceptance of eVTOL aircraft,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation. “We’re incredibly proud to have worked closely with NASA on electric flight over the past 10 years and to be the first eVTOL company to fly as part of the campaign.”
“NASA’s AAM National Campaign is critical to driving scientific understanding and public acceptance of eVTOL aircraft,” Joby Aviation founder and CEO Joe Ben Bevirt said in a statement released by NASA. “We’re incredibly proud to have worked closely with NASA on electric flight over the past 10 years and to be the first eVTOL company to fly as part of the campaign.”
“From day one, we prioritized building an aircraft that not only has an extremely low noise profile, but blends seamlessly into the natural environment,” Bevirt said in a statement released by Joby. “We have always believed that a minimal acoustic footprint is key to making aviation a convenient part of everyday movement without compromising quality of life, and we’re excited to fly with NASA, our longtime partners in electric flight, to demonstrate the acoustic profile of our aircraft.”
When fully integrated into the national airspace, AAM will provide an efficient and affordable system for passenger and cargo transportation and other applications in the public interest. This system could include aircraft like package delivery drones, air taxis and medical transport vehicles.
AAM is an aviation system that encompasses developing and deploying aviation in innovative ways not typically seen today. The AAM National Campaign is managed by NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility project, which plans to be a community catalyst for developing and validating system-level concepts and solutions for AAM. The AAM project is a part of the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.
Joby’s all-electric helicopter can cover a distance of up to 150 miles (240 kilometers) in one go, according to the Joby statement, and reach a speed of up to 200 mph (320 kph). The company, which was recently listed on the New York stock exchange, has been testing its full-scale prototypes since 2017 and has performed more than 1,000 test flights. Joby hopes to receive a certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in 2023 and start providing commercial passenger service by early 2024, the company said in the statement.