Joby Aviation flies its four-passenger eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) craft in NYC for the first time, ahead of planned service between Manhattan and two NYC-area airports.
The craft has a range of 100 miles on a full charge, making it suitable for most routes around NYC and Long Island, thereby cutting the travel time down to minutes versus driving by car.
Joby Aviation has partnered with Delta Air Lines to bring eVTOL service to the NYC area, after its planned receipt of certification from the FAA.
The days when an all-electric air taxi will be able to whisk you from the roof of one skyscraper to another are inching closer, even though we're far from the heights of eVTOL optimism of the previous decade.
Joby Aviation, one of the main players in this perpetually over-the-next-hill industry, has just flown its electric VTOL craft in New York City, perhaps giving us a preview of our Neill Blomkamp future that will be available to some segment of the city's population.
Joby's craft took off from the Downtown Heliport in Manhattan, marking the first time the startup's craft has flown in an urban area. The flight was also the first time an eVTOL passenger craft, intended as an alternative to noisy and polluting helicopters, has flown in this particular city.
The craft's main value proposition for the New York metro area will be trips from the Manhattan heliport to JFK and LaGuardia airports—trips that the company says the craft will be able to accomplish in just seven minutes—versus as much as an hour by car.
The four-passenger craft will be able to cover about 100 miles on a single charge, allowing it to reach quite a few nearby destinations from Manhattan that are usually served by helicopters, and has partnered with Delta Air Lines to operate the craft after certification is received from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
"We plan to make quiet, emissions-free flight an affordable, everyday reality for New Yorkers, while significantly reducing the impact of helicopter noise," said JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby Aviation.
Just how common a trip in an eVTOL craft will be in practice remains to be seen, while still competing with helicopters on the same Manhattan-JFK routes. Helicopter trips are certainly an everyday reality for some New Yorkers, at least those whose time is more valuable than taking a luxury limousine from the same destination. The eVTOL could become another pricey mode of transport.
Target pricing for various eVTOL trips in the NYC metro area has not been announced yet, but the goal is to beat helicopters when it comes to running costs. With eVTOL craft filling up with electricity instead of fuel, this should be easy enough once service gets going. But some initial costs will have to be addressed at launch.
Inevitably, one other industry with which Joby's craft will compete are robotaxis, which are only now starting their invasion of the East Coast after suffering some recent hiccups out west. And Joby is by no means the only player in this field, hoping to skip over robotaxis on the way to our sci-fi future, as other eVTOL developers are also inching toward commercial service.
Joby expects the first routes to open in 2025. Before then, some updates to infrastructure will have to happen at the craft's destinations in LGA and JFK, as well as the Manhattan heliport.
Will eVTOL craft begin to edge out helicopters as modes of quick urban transport in this decade, or is this a process that will take longer, if ever? Let us know in the comments below.