Joby flies towards 2025 commercial launch with final assembly of eVTOL

Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) company Joby Aviation has taken another step on its path to start a commercial air taxi service by 2025. The company said Tuesday that it’s begun final assembly on its “company-conforming” eVTOL, which is essentially a prototype that’s a couple steps away from the final version.

Joby expects to begin flight testing for the aircraft in the first half of this year.

The technological milestone comes a week after Joby completed the second stage of a process with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to achieve type certification for its aircraft for commercial passenger use. Joby says it’s making moves on the final three stages of that process, as well.

Type certification would mean the FAA approves Joby’s aircraft design and all component parts. It also signifies the design is compliant with the agency’s standards for airworthiness and noise. After that, Joby will need to achieve production certification, which will allow Joby to mass produce its eVTOLs under the FAA-approved designs.

In getting to the point of final assembly, Joby had to put in place an intense quality management system that includes tracking and documenting every part on the aircraft, design drawings used to manufacture aircraft components, environmental conditions during fabrications and actions taken by manufacturing technicians.

Didier Papadopoulos, head of aircraft OEM at Joby, said the steps Joby has taken to produce a company-conforming aircraft, including the quality management system and regular FAA reviews, brings the company closer to receiving its production certification.

Joby has already built the major structures of the aircraft, like the wing, tail and fuselage, and will now fuse everything together and install wiring, electronics, actuation and propulsion systems.

The aircraft will be the first one produced at Joby’s pilot manufacturing facility in Marina, California. That facility is designed to prove out Joby’s manufacturing process through low-rate manufacturing and is capable of producing tens of aircraft per year, according to the company. Joby is already using the facility to build and assemble parts for future aircraft.

When it comes to more scaled manufacturing, Joby is currently in the market for a location for its Phase 1 production facility. The company says it’s actively reviewing proposals from a number of states keen to boost manufacturing and create jobs.