Joby — 1st Electric VTOL Aircraft To Fly Over New York City

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I just wrote the other day about the first electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to fly in Florida skies, which was also the first to fly from a major international airport in the US. We’ve got another first in the industry now. A Joby eVTOL aircraft has become the first to fly over Manhattan, or New York City more broadly.

In this case, it’s a 5-person (4-passenger) eVTOL aircraft, and the design is quite different from the Volocopter that flew over Tampa, Florida. The Joby electric aircraft can go 100 miles on a full charge. The company estimates that a flight from Manhattan to JFK Airport will take around 7 minutes, compared to around 1 hour by car. Naturally, it won’t be a cheap ticket, but imagine all the high rollers who would rather spend a pretty penny flying by eVTOL aircraft in 7 minutes to JFK Airport rather than taking a ground taxi.

“If Manhattanites noticed a small, quiet aircraft taking off from the Downtown Heliport and flying over the East River on Sunday, it wasn’t a UFO—but rather a glimpse into the city’s air-taxi future,” Michael Verdon writes on the Robb Report. Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s a novelty we’re more excited about than the future warrants. However, if these aircraft are going to become common in places like NYC, I have to say that I don’t think that’s a big plus aesthetically and in terms of quality of life. We have enough traffic on the ground, and seeing that traffic extend itself into the skies doesn’t sound appealing. Even just thinking of movies where this is the norm, does it ever look better than clear skies? Does it ever not feel very busy and a bit stressful?

Maybe I’m just getting old.

Joby eVTOL over NYC
Photo courtesy of Joby

Verdon adds that this flight was a month after Joby’s first flight in California, which is where Joby is based. Aside from setting the record for the first eVTOL aircraft flight over NYC, this was also Joby’s first flight in an urban setting. The flight took place on Sunday, November 12, starting from “the iconic Downtown Heliport in Manhattan, NY.” NYC Mayor Eric Adams announced at the event that the city intends to electrify this heliport. The city aims to become a global leader in clean, quiet, electric flight.

“By electrifying one of the most famous heliports in the world, New York is demonstrating global leadership in the adoption of electric air travel. We’re grateful for the support of the city, and we’re honored to be working with visionary partners like Delta Air Lines to bring our air taxi service to this market,” said JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby Aviation. “We plan to make quiet, emissions-free flight an affordable, everyday reality for New Yorkers, while significantly reducing the impact of helicopter noise.”

Joby partnered with Delta Air Lines approximately a year ago, and it indicated at the time that it saw NYC as one of its first launch markets. That’s still the plan.

“Joby and Delta are working closely with the Port Authority of New York and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) as they plan for initial operations, including the development of infrastructure at JFK and LaGuardia International Airport (LGA). This builds on significant recent investments Delta has made in upgrading the customer experience at its New York hubs,” the company stated.

“Delivering exceptional experiences for our customers is why Delta has invested over $7B in New York City, especially at our LaGuardia and JFK hubs,” said Gail Grimmett, SVP of Sustainability Performance and Strategic Partnerships at Delta. “Today’s announcement demonstrates the great progress that’s been made toward launching clean, quiet and convenient air taxi services for Delta customers traveling to and from New York, and is a testament to our innovative partners at Joby and the support of Mayor Eric Adams in advancing new and sustainable technologies.”

Joby has already covered 30,000 miles with its prototype electric VTOL aircraft. The company is aiming for commercial practical service to begin in 2025.

Stay tuned for more. I have a feeling we’ll be covering Joby’s initial journeys through the air as we get there.

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