California-based Joby Aero has achieved an important milestone in the development of its electric air taxi, flying a full-size prototype vehicle more than 150 miles on a single charge, including a vertical take-off and landing.
The flight was completed at Joby’s Electric Flight Base in Big Sur, California. The aircraft, piloted from the ground by Joby’s Chief Test Pilot, Justin Paines, took off vertically before transitioning to forward flight and completing 11 laps of a predefined circuit. After more than an hour and 17 minutes in the air, the aircraft landed vertically, having covered a total distance of 155 miles.
“We’ve achieved something that many thought impossible with today’s battery technology,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby. “By doing so we’ve taken the first step towards making convenient, emissions-free air travel between places like San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, Houston and Austin, or Los Angeles and San Diego an everyday reality.”
Joby’s prototype aircraft uses commercially available lithium-ion batteries that the company has adapted for aerospace use. Joby says the combination of an 811 NMC cathode and a graphite anode cell delivers the optimal trade-off between the specific energy required to fly the aircraft 150 miles, the specific power to take off and land vertically, and the cycle life to deliver an affordable service. The company says it has demonstrated in the lab that this battery is capable of more than 10,000 of its expected nominal flight cycles.
Joby’s aircraft is expected to start commercial passenger service in 2024, transporting a pilot and four passengers at speeds of up to 200 mph.
“With the right cell chemistry and a lot of hard work across the entire engineering team, we’ve been able to create a remarkably efficient aircraft that can make the most of today’s commercially available batteries,” said Jon Wagner, Joby’s Head of Powertrain and Electronics, who previously led battery engineering at Tesla.
“As we’ve extended the range, we’ve been able to identify modifications to the aircraft that improve efficiency and, for the final few tests, we were able to upgrade the landing gear on our prototype aircraft to one with a drag profile more representative of what we expect to see on our production aircraft,” said Justin Paines. “While we still have plenty more testing to do, achieving this milestone is an important validation of our technology.”
Source: Joby Aero