Citing a change in FAA certification rules, Joby Aviation stated that it’s pushing the target date for its entry into eVTOL passenger service to 2025.
For a company that has the jump on its competition, this represents a big setback. And one that affects not just Joby, but other eVTOL companies as well.
By late 2021, the plan went awry. The FAA came to the conclusion that even if eVTOLs could be certified under Part 23, pilot certification could not. Plus, there was little that was airplane-like about many eVTOLs. For one, they can hover, and some may not have wings. There are wingless multicopters (like Volocopter), vectored thrust aircraft (Lilium), tiltrotor-style variants (Joby), and lift-plus-cruise aircraft (Jaunt). Collectively, the term “powered lift” is being used to identify this new class of aircraft.
To reconcile this disconnect, FAA leadership decided in May 2022 that eVTOLs and their ilk would follow the certification processes defined by FAR 21.17(b). This approach requires that manufacturers pick their proposed standards from a list of existing certification rules for airplanes, rotorcraft, engines, and propellers.
The only problem is that it will take time to develop and finalize this jumble of certification processes and standards. It could take until late 2024, which is why Joby mentions its new 2025 entry into service.
The proposed rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on November 8. Comments may be submitted until December 8.