CEO of Joby Aviation JoeBen Bevirt during a recent event in Marina.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Business & Technology

Joby gets clearer timeline for when federal regulators will open skies to air taxis

The Federal Aviation Administration says electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft could be in commercial use by 2028, with some limited operations as early as 2025. Santa Cruz County native JoeBen Bevirt, founder of eVTOL industry leader Joby, has pushed for that earlier timeline to get his vision for an Uber-like air taxi service off the ground.

Joby Aviation, the homegrown startup that has become the apple of the Santa Cruz tech industry’s eye, now has clearer guidance from regulators on when air taxis might fully take flight in the United States — 2028.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday laid out its timeline for allowing aircraft in the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) industry to operate in the country’s skies. The agency released an implementation plan laying out how eVTOL aircraft could be in commercial use by 2028, with some limited operations as early as 2025.

Aircraft in the eVTOL space are different from airplanes or helicopters in that they are fully electric and aimed at sustainable transportation. They take off and land vertically, which eliminates the need for runway infrastructure. Joby’s aircraft, with six propellers and seats for four passengers and one pilot, looks somewhere between a helicopter for the electric vehicle age and a passenger-sized drone.

Joby, founded by Santa Cruz County native JoeBen Bevirt, has maintained its place as a leader in the eVTOL industry. Bevirt has been pushing for 2025 to realize his vision for his air taxi service, which will work like Uber, but for air trips of 100 miles and less, with zero emissions.

Joby did not respond to Lookout’s emails for comment.

Last month, during an event at its production facility in Marina that attracted hundreds of investors, regulators, politicians and local dignitaries, Joby unveiled the first eVTOL aircraft to ever come off an FAA-certified production assembly line. Joby also announced a partnership with Toyota, welcoming Toyota North America CEO and president Tetsuo “Ted” Ogawa to Joby’s board of directors. Toyota has already invested more than $400 million in Joby, and will now offer its expertise in engineering and production efficiency.

In the days following that announcement, Joby’s stock surged nearly 70%. However, the stock has dropped by more than 15% since Tuesday’s FAA announcement. On Wednesday, a JPMorgan technology analyst downgraded Joby’s stock, calling the market reaction to the announcement in Marina “overblown.”

Also on Tuesday, Rep. Jimmy Panetta’s office announced that the congressman was introducing legislation to offer eVTOL aircraft the same tax exemptions that helicopters and airplanes receive.

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