Home / News / World /  NASA begins trials for electric air taxi

NASA has begun flight testing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with Joby Aviation for air taxi services under its Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign. The testing will continue till September 10, Friday, at Joby's Electric Flight Base located near Big Sur, California.

This is the first time NASA is testing an eVTOL aircraft as part of the AAM National Campaign. In the future, eVTOL aircraft could serve as air taxis for urban regions and surrounding areas, adding another mode of transportation for moving people and goods.

NASA will collect vehicle performance and acoustic data for use in modeling and simulation of future airspace concepts. This test will help identify gaps in current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and policies to help incorporate AAM aircraft into the National Airspace System. This multi-event campaign run at multiple locations over several years.

“The National Campaign Developmental Testing is an important strategic step in NASA’s goals to accelerate the AAM industry timeline. These testing scenarios will help inform gaps in current standards to benefit the industry’s progress of integrating AAM vehicles into the airspace," said Davis Hackenberg, NASA AAM mission integration manager.

During this round of testing, NASA will collect data from Joby’s eVTOL aircraft, which is intended to serve as a commercial passenger service in the future. Analyzing that data readies the AAM National Campaign to execute the first set of campaign tests scheduled for 2022, known as NC-1, with more complex flight scenarios and other industry vehicles.

As the Joby aircraft flies planned test scenarios, the NASA team will collect information about how the vehicle moves, how the vehicle sounds, and how the vehicle communicates with controllers. Future partners will fly similar scenarios to evaluate their vehicle readiness.

The team will deploy the mobile acoustics facility and construct an array of more than 50 microphones to measure the acoustic profile of Joby’s aircraft in different phases of flight.

“NASA’s AAM National Campaign is critical to driving scientific understanding and public acceptance of eVTOL aircraft. We’re incredibly proud to have worked closely with NASA on electric flight over the past 10 years and to be the first eVTOL company to fly as part of the campaign," said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation.

NASA's test includes establishing a baseline to ensure external ranges participating in NC-1 meet the protocols for future testing. The team will also test NASA’s flight safety and airworthiness processes to approve participants to fly in the campaign.

When fully integrated into the national airspace, AAM will provide an efficient and affordable system for passenger and cargo transportation, and other applications in the public interest, NASA said. This system could include aircraft like package delivery drones, air taxis and medical transport vehicles.

AAM is an aviation system that encompasses developing and deploying aviation in innovative ways not typically seen today. The AAM National Campaign is managed by NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility project, which plans to be a community catalyst for developing and validating system-level concepts and solutions for AAM. The AAM project is a part of the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.

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