Joby Aviation has taken the first step towards building the first eVTOL airline, by beginning the process to receive a Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

A Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate is required for Joby to operate its revolutionary aircraft as an air taxi service in cities and communities around the United States. Alongside a Type Certificate and Production Certificate, this is one of three regulatory approvals critical to the planned launch of Joby’s all-electric aerial ridesharing service in 2024.

The company is now in the first of five stages necessary for Joby to achieve Part 135 certification in 2022. It expects to start the next stage of the process in August, with the submission of additional application materials including the full complement of airline operating manuals.

Once that documentation is approved, the FAA will visit Joby locations to observe training sessions and witness flight operations before issuing its final approval.

The process is led by Joby’s Head of Air Operations, Bonny Simi. She said: “We’re excited to reach this milestone on the path toward becoming the first eVTOL airline in the world. We look forward to working closely with the FAA as we prepare to welcome passengers to a new kind of air travel — one that is environmentally friendly, quiet enough to operate close to cities and communities, and will save people valuable time.” 

As Joby’s eVTOL aircraft is not expected to receive its type certification until 2023, the company intends to operate traditional, existing, certified aircraft under the Part 135 air carrier certification from 2022 before adding the Joby aircraft to the airline operating certificate once it is certified.

Last year, Joby agreed to a ‘G-1’ certification basis with the FAA for its aircraft in line with existing Part 23 requirements for Normal Category Airplanes, with special conditions introduced to address requirements specific to Joby’s unique aircraft. In line with this certification approach, Joby will employ commercial airline pilots licensed under existing FAA regulations to fly its passenger service.

Joby’s air operations team includes numerous aviation industry veterans with extensive experience. They include Kellen Mollahan, a former MV-22 pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps, as assistant director of operations.

Matthew Lykins, an expert maintenance safety inspector and auditor, avionics technician and pilot with more than 30 years of experience, is director of maintenance while Peter Wilson, former lead test pilot for the F-35B program with more than 35 years of flight test and instructor experience, is director of flight standards and training. The team also includes Jill Wilson, an aviation safety leader who has held roles at Embraer, XO Jet and Cape Air.

Joby is designed to transport a pilot and four passengers with zero operation emissions. The aircraft has a range of 150 miles and can travel at speeds up to 200 mph.

Earlier this week, the company’s full-scale prototype completed a trip of more than 150 miles on a single charge – in what is believed to be the longest eVTOL flight to date.