FAA Publishes Airworthiness Standards For Joby


The FAA has published airworthiness criteria for the Joby eVTOL aircraft, making it likely to be the first to be certified. The agency put the proposed “Special Class Airworthiness Criteria” rule in the Federal Register and opened it up for a 30-day comment period. The document runs about 12 pages and covers dozens of standards and requirements, and since this is the agency’s first crack at this it is looking forward to getting the input. “The most helpful comments reference a specific portion of the airworthiness criteria, explain the reason for a recommended change, and include supporting data,” the agency said.

Because the Joby, and dozens like it that are also in development, combine features of a variety of different types of aircraft, the agency decided to certify it under “special class aircraft.” That means it is borrowing requirements for the certification of Part 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33 and 35 to set the standards for the Joby. “This notice announces the applicable regulations and other airworthiness criteria developed, under § 21.17(b), for type certification of the Joby Model JAS4-1 powered-lift,” the proposed rule says.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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    • It can’t, nor should it. The regs we follow to certify jet engines don’t tell us how much power they must make.

  1. There’s no facts to support the statement “…making it likely to be the first to be certified.”

    Joby’s “success” is to get a *basis* of certification after 5 years of work. It is simply a basis, and gets them to Page Zero of certification. I can look at 14 CFR Part 460 and see my *basis* of certification of Carl’s Space Program. Is me having a copy of the rules ensuring that I will be the first to be certified. I can go to the Federal Election Commission website and see the exact steps to become President of the USA – does me having the basis of being president mean you are going to see Carl in the White House in 2024?

    There are 40+ very complex items in this doc that the FAA plainly says do not have any industry consensus standard they are willing to accept, and that for each, Joby will have to create issue papers. Read 8110.112A, “Standardized Procedures for Usage of Issue Papers and Development of Equivalent Levels of Safety Memorandums.” and tell me how easy this will be. If they actually had a production-ready prototype with the specs of all of these area finalized that could be tested that would be one thing, but they have not completed development.

    Look at the Honda Jet certification process: it used mature, understood technology and had a well established certification path. GE was their engine partner and has decades of powerplant cert experience. GE and Honda have bottomless pockets. GE and Honda are premier engineering and manufacturing organizations.
    Even with all this going for them, the Honda Jet took 20+ years and cost $2 billion. They will never break even at $6m / aircraft.

    I sincerely wish all of these eVTOL projects good luck, but to think that getting a certification basis finalized (which has dozens of complex areas that still have no established criteria) is some major accomplishment on the path to certification is misleading. It’s a long and expensive road ahead and they are just getting started.

    • Which is all why we cannot have nice things. We’ve progressed out of medieval and ancient times, when those who worked in and controlled various industries would use religion, politics, and fear to prevent disruptive innovators from upsetting their positions only to now have the bureaucracy take over the job of squashing progress.

      And it’s worse. These environments make the large, slow, established companies even less likely to innovate themselves. In aviation, we are passed the point where people who want to create new things are likely being ejected from the established companies like some sorts of viral infections.

      • What you say is one reason, maybe the main reason, why much of the current development in aviation is happening in other countries. EVTOLs, LSAs, etc. are coming from places where the development is driven more by good engineering practices and less by an endless litany of government “standards” that may not even apply to the current designs. If the Wright brothers had waited for the government to develop the standards for building an airplane before they built theirs, we would all still be walking around, looking up in envy at the birds.

        • Your statement is correct regarding the Wright brothers, but don’t overlook the fact that their own patent wars set the tone of restricting development right from the word “go”.

          • True, their battles with Glenn Curtis and others are legendary. The Wrights were clearly not choir boys when it came to protecting their “invention” and revenue source. The patent system was set up to protect innovators and inventors from having their ideas stolen or copied by others, but it can also be used as you say to restrict development. No perfect system. 🙁