Joby begins flight tests with pilot on board

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Joby Aviation announced that four test pilots from the company have conducted flights on the electric air taxi. The thefts took place at Joby’s production site in Marina, California. During testing, Joby pilots assessed the ease of performing a number of tasks and maneuvers that pilots will be required to perform during normal operations, including vertical takeoffs, acceleration and transition to the forward flight, tracking the runway centerline and deceleration for a vertical landing on a representative landing area. The evaluation of these mission elements (MTE) will support the certification of the Joby aircraft as well as the company’s ongoing work with the Department of Defense.

Four pilots have flown on Joby’s aircraft so far…

Joby Aviation announced on October 4, 2023 that the company has expanded its flight test program to include flights with a pilot on board the aircraft, a crucial step on the company’s path to commercial operation. As a result, four members of Joby’s flight test team have now completed flights aboard the company’s pre-production prototype, completing a series of initial tests including hovers and forward transitions for a complete flight.

…In addition to the tests carried out at Edwards AFB…

The testing took place at the company’s pilot production site in Marina, California, and complements ongoing flight testing at Edwards AFB, announced in September, where pilots of Joby and the United States Air Force will demonstrate the aircraft’s capabilities in realistic operating scenarios. To date, the majority of Joby flight tests have been flown remotely from a Ground Control Station (GCS), using state-of-the-art communications technology and software. This allowed the company to generate a large amount of data on aircraft performance across a wide range of flight conditions.

…For aircraft certification

The onboard piloting campaign was led by James “Buddy” Denham, Joby’s chief test pilot, and aimed to gather data on the aircraft’s handling qualities and pilot control interfaces, in order to support development of the aircraft and to lay the groundwork for future “for credit” testing as part of the company’s ongoing certification program with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). “Having participated in the design and testing of flight controls for a wide variety of aircraft, including all three variants of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, nothing compares to the simplicity and grace of the aircraft Joby,” said James “Buddy” Denham.

400 vertical takeoffs and landings

“Having completed more than 400 vertical takeoffs and landings from the ground, it is a privilege to sit in the cockpit of this aircraft and directly experience the ease and intuitive nature of the design developed by the team at Joby.” During testing, Joby pilots assessed the ease of performing a number of tasks and maneuvers that pilots will be required to perform during normal operations, including vertical takeoffs, acceleration and transition to the forward flight, tracking the runway centerline and deceleration for a vertical landing on a representative landing area. The evaluation of these mission elements (MTE) will support the certification of the Joby aircraft as well as the company’s ongoing work with the Department of Defense.

A former F-35B STOVL

Denham joined Joby in 2019 after retiring from the Naval Air Systems Command where he was an Esteemed Technical Fellow focused on research, development, test and evaluation of advanced flight controls and flight dynamics for a wide variety of aircraft. He led the research and development of the Unified Command concept – a joint US-UK project – which was successfully integrated into the F-35B STOVL aircraft. Subsequently, he pioneered a new concept of flight controls for aircraft carrier landings, called “Precision Landing Modes”, which made it possible to significantly increase landing precision, reduce the pilot workload and improve the safety of aircraft carrier landings of US Navy F/A-18E/F/G and F-35C aircraft. The experience he gained from these two cutting-edge programs was instrumental in the development of the flight controls for Joby aircraft.

John Walker Avatar