NASA, Joby Complete eVTOL Flight Tests


The NASA Advanced Air Mobility National (AAM) Campaign team has wrapped up two weeks of flight testing on Joby Aviation’s prototype electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The tests, which were the first to be conducted by NASA using an eVTOL aircraft as part of the campaign, took place at Joby’s facility near Big Sur, California. Data collection included the use of NASA’s Mobile Acoustics Facility and an array of more than 50 pressure ground-plate microphones.

“NASA’s goal is to collect vehicle performance and acoustic data for use in modeling and simulation of future airspace concepts,” the agency said. “After the data is analyzed, the test results will also help identify gaps in current Federal Aviation Administration regulations and policies to help incorporate Advanced Air Mobility aircraft into the National Airspace System.”

During testing, the Joby eVTOL prototype flew a series of planned scenarios aimed at providing data on “how the vehicle moves, how the vehicle sounds, and how the vehicle communicates with controllers.” NASA says it plans to use similar scenarios for evaluating the readiness of future partners’ aircraft. Designed as an air taxi, the commercial version of Joby’s aircraft is expected to have a range of 150 miles, top speed of 200 MPH and be capable of carrying a pilot and four passengers.

Video: NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center
Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Huge oversight not including in the panel of audio judges a couple of cranky old guys prone to yelling “Turn that sh*t off!”

  2. Note again that there is no audio of the aircraft. Just music. Not once have I seen one of the eVYOL videos with audio. Not once. Just saying….

    • Here is a video from Joby complete with a decibel meter reading.
      For what it’s worth, two evtol’s performed demonstration flights at Airventure this year. Blackfly and SureFly’s Multi-Copter. I was right on the flight line for both. Amazingly quiet.

  3. If it is an “air taxi” with 4 passengers, Will it have to make an extra trip for their luggage? If the fair is 80 miles out, then what? How much downtime is there for the batteries to recharge? Is there a real need or is it a matter of, “see what I can do!” Are helicopters unable to keep up with the demand? At the airports, will this be parked next to all the taxi cabs and Uber? How much will cities charge in taxes to operate? How many years in the “red” will it operate before investors see a profit? Will it be government funded like Tesla?

    • Similar type questions asked when Amazon laid out big plans to expand their book store. Would never work! Anyway, electric vehicles, trucks, city and school buses are on the road already, demand for the new Ford F-150 is exceeding expectations and guess what… electric airplanes are next. Even electric flying taxis. Luggage doesn’t fit? Order a bigger one, just as you do with an Uber now. Don’t be a hater…

      • A small piston-powered helicopter normally uses 6 – 16 gal. of fuel per Hr. The larger turbine-powered can use 20 to several hundred gallons per hr. What is the ratio of gas to batteries? Gasoline has about 100 times the energy density of a lithium-ion battery.

        That means that the only way these aircraft can work is to use an onboard charging system commonly called range extenders. Battery density will NEVER match fuel, even the new solid state. That’s the real world!

        • OK, let’s remember Don’s “NEVER” statement. That’s like the 1899 patent office commissioner famously saying “everything that can be invented has been invented” Don, there will come a time…

          • Batteries are chemistry. The most reactive metal on this planet is lithium. Unless you can add to the parabolic chart – no significant improvements are ever going to happen.

    • Tesla was a massive drain on taxpayers, and will likely be again if Biden has his way of extending tax credits. (A clever way of getting your neighbors to pay for your expensive toy car virtue signaling showpiece)

    • Tesla paid back their $465 million Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program in 2013. Unlike Ford, who took over $5 billion from the same program and never paid it back, and GM who went bankrupt and cost taxpayers $10 billion.

      The big 3 pay Tesla for EV credits, not tax payers.

      Maybe you’re thinking of the big 3 automakers taking subsidies? Or is it oil& gas companies?

      Mark Twain — ‘If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.’

  4. That particular aircraft has several large-blade-area fans that appear to be slow turning. Video can be deceptive but i would think it would be relatively quiet.

  5. Electric cars are able to function adequately in certain scenarios, but they can hide their immense weight as they don’t need to levitate.

    As useful load is a primary design consideration it is impossible for electric aircraft, especially a VTOL to be practical.

    The day may come when we have Star Trek technology batteries, but lithium laptop batteries won’t fly. Literally and figuratively.

    (Yes I know there are examples of tiny Li battery aircraft that can break the surly bonds of Earth, but I am speaking practical transport class aircraft and VTOLs in this context)

  6. Why is NASA doing this instead of the FAA or…? Who authorized the use of our tax dollars for this? Data are plural not singular.

    • NASA are the researchers and concept testers, not the FAA, who are the certifiers. NASA has been testing weird things since the 50’s. I visited their Ames research center at Moffett Field and several other facilities while working for JPL in the early 80’s. Super cool stuff and yes, super large budget.

      • “NASA has been testing weird things since the 50’s.”

        NASA was established in 1958.
        It did not immediately start testing “weird things”.
        In this particular case, NASA/Ames is helping to lay ground information for the FAA to monitor EVTOL’s in the existing… and ongoing airspace system.
        It’s worthwhile stuff.

        Miles O’Brien hosted a really interesting PBS on this subject any aviation enthusiast should find worth watching.
        Our own Paul B. has a good.. “one man”… video surrounding this documentary.
        Highly recommended.

  7. Anyone who believes that battery improvements will be coming soon, sufficient for VTOL aviation are probably heavily invested in typewriter ribbon, 8 Track tapes or in the black and white tv market! Hybrid is the only practical solution to utilize electric vertical flight.

    • But, having charged batteries at each of the waypoints envisioned in the Taxi scenarios… well, that makes air-taxi doable.