Joby Aviation has begun Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conformity testing, which represents a key milestone on the path to achieving type certification for its commercial eVTOL aircraft.
The start of conformity testing is a significant moment for the Joby team, as the company’s aircraft type certification program enters the ‘implementation phase’ for the first time.
Joby’s first series of conformity tests, observed and documented by an on-site FAA Designated Engineering Representative (DER), was completed this week at Toray Advanced Composites USA’s facility in Morgan Hill, California.
JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby, said: “After years of development and company testing, we’re excited to formally begin the process of conformity testing. We began engaging with the FAA in 2015 to lay the groundwork for certification of our aircraft, and today we move closer to bringing fast, clean and convenient aerial ride-sharing to the world.”
The testing, developed by Joby engineers, is designed to confirm the material strength of composite coupons that are representative of the aerostructure of Joby’s aircraft. The resulting compliance data will form the foundation for future testing of structural components of the aircraft as Joby progresses through the type certification process.
Each system and structure of the Joby aircraft will enter the implementation phase and begin conformity testing following completion and approval of requirements definition and compliance planning. During this phase, Joby will complete thousands of inspections and tests to demonstrate the airworthiness and safety of its aircraft before receiving a type certificate from the FAA.
Lina Spross, quality and supply chain lead at Joby, said: “Entering this stage of testing demonstrates that we’re capable of manufacturing composite parts in accordance with their design, our quality system is capable of producing conforming composite parts for the aircraft, and that we have the requisite traceability and design verification processes in place to progress toward our type and production certifications.”
In November 2021, Joby completed its first FAA part conformity inspection as expected, confirming that the batch of test coupons used in the ‘for credit’ testing conformed to the attributes and specifications of their associated design data and as intended for the aircraft’s type certification.
The coupons, constructed using a toughened epoxy and state-of-the-art carbon fiber, result in a material that is lighter and stronger than existing aerospace-grade composites, making it ideal for a high-performance eVTOL aircraft.
In 2020, Joby became the first and only eVTOL aircraft company to sign a G-1 (stage 4) certification basis with the FAA, having received an initial (stage 2) signed G-1 from the FAA in 2019. In parallel with this work, the company continues to make progress with the FAA on defining the means of compliance that will apply to its aircraft as it progresses with certification efforts.