This electric flying taxi has been approved for takeoff — sort of

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given a “Special Airworthiness Certificate” to Joby Aviation’s new electric air taxi, allowing it to operate in U.S. airspace under certain restrictions, making it a step closer to potential commercial operation by 2025.

Overall Context: California-based company, Joby Aviation, received approval from the FAA for flight testing its factory-built electric air taxi.
* This is the third Joby aircraft to receive such a certificate, with previous certifications given to hand-made prototypes, but the recent approval is for a factory-built model.
* The goal is to start commercial passenger services in 2025, in collaboration with Delta Air Lines, primarily targeting trips between homes and airports in New York and Los Angeles.

Vehicle Details: The vehicle is an eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft, designed to transport four passengers and a pilot.
* It can travel at speeds up to 200 mph and has a range of 150 miles on a single charge.
* Compared to helicopters, it promises to be quieter and more affordable, aiming for an average cost of around $3 per mile initially, with a plan to go below $1 per mile eventually.

Collaborations and Investors: There is significant involvement from major automakers in the development of electric air taxis.
* Toyota, for instance, is the largest external shareholder of Joby Aviation, has invested around $400 million in the company since 2020, and has collaborated on the production line and aircraft manufacturing process.

Next Steps: A lot needs to happen before launching into regular commercial service.
* The company is looking to increase its production capability from a current few tens to hundreds per year.
* Some of the air taxis will be used by the U.S. military as per Joby’s contract with the U.S. Air Force.
* The FAA is preparing for air taxi operations and plans to release an action plan for safe industry scaling.

Sustainability and Accessibility Concerns: While promising a green alternative to ground transportation, experts point out accessibility and sustainability issues
* Experts worry that this kind of transportation could mainly be available to those with higher income.
* There are also questions about how green they truly are, and concerns regarding noise and traffic in the sky.

View original article on NPR

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