by Patrick J. Paul

On February 16, 2022, Joby Aviation, a California-based company developing all-electric aircraft for commercial passenger service, reported that one of its prototype experimental unmanned aerial taxis crashed in flight in South Monterey County, California. Although no injuries were reported, damage to the aircraft itself was substantial.

The Joby prototype was one of two electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for which it had received approval for flight testing under FAA Special Airworthiness Certification. The National Transportation Safety Board has commenced an investigation as to the cause of the crash. Flight tracking data indicates that the air taxi prototype gained speeds of over 270 mph, significantly surpassing the air taxi’s advertised top speed of 200 mph.

Notwithstanding the setback, Joby has announced plans to partner with Japanese airline ANA to develop aerial ridesharing services in Japan and similarly, to partner with SK Telecom, to develop an air taxi service in South Korea.