Joby Aviation’s 2025 commercial launch strategy is emerging. The firm won a $55 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense on Tuesday, allowing it to sell its aircraft before FAA certification.
Joby is seeking two market paths: a commercial service that requires FAA certification and a government service that requires DoD military airworthiness. The former certifies aircraft design, manufacture, maintenance, pilot training, and operating procedures. The latter prioritizes military aircraft requirements.
The FAA certified Joby’s Model JAS4-1 aircraft into U.S. airspace in November. In 2020, the Air Force approved the company’s uncrewed electric aircraft.
Joby is reducing FAA restrictions for its alternative commercialization option, comparable to a ride-share app where consumers pay to be transported by air taxis. Joby started the final construction of its company-conforming eVTOL prototype in February.
The business completed the FAA’s type certification process’s second step. However, Joby must complete several steps before obtaining production certification and mass-building its eVTOLs.
Both certification routes are similar. Joby executive chairman Paul Sciarra calls that double.
“One is that we get to basically put product into the hands of customers a lot more quickly, generate revenue more quickly, but then also gain the learnings of what it takes to operate these aircraft, train pilots, dispatch the vehicles,” Sciarra told TechCrunch. Before releasing it to consumers, we do that in a smaller, more controlled context.
Joby’s third DoD funding renewal extends its Agility Prime contract with the U.S. Air Force, which began in April 2020 to test, experiment, and expedite eVTOL research for commercial and military usage. The business says this week’s deal raises Joby’s contract value to $131 million.
Joby will deploy and operate up to nine five-seat, low-noise electric aircraft to Edwards Air Force Base in California by spring 2024. In addition, Joby’s eVTOLs will also exhibit logistical use cases such as carrying people, freight, and medical evacuations.
Joby will teach military pilots while keeping the plane. Joby’s Marina, California factory has started training. Four Air Force pilots were the first to fly Joby’s eVTOL from vertical to windborne flight earlier this month. The business claimed pilots educated in classroom and simulated environments remotely piloted the flights.
Lt. Col. Tom Meagher, Agility Prime division lead, said, “This next step of getting Air Force pilots trained and operating Joby aircraft at an Air Force installation is an incredibly important milestone for the program, providing key insights to actual operations and use case validation for Advanced Air Mobility aircraft.
“Joby operations offer an excellent opportunity for accelerated learning with other Department of Defense services and government agencies, including NASA and the FAA.” In addition, Sciarra hopes Joby’s first deployment will lead to larger government contracts.