The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Japanese Regulator Approves Type Certification Basis for SkyDrive's Personal eVTOL Vehicle

The Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) has approved the type certification basis for SkyDrive’s SD-05 two-seat personal eVTOL vehicle. The Japanese company confirmed the decision late last week, reporting that the type certification process will be conducted according to the agency’s Airworthiness Inspection Manual Part II (Revision 61), which generally applies to fixed-wing aircraft with a takeoff weight of up to 19,000 pounds.

The JCAB, which is part of Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT), accepted SkyDrive’s application for type certification in October 2021. The Toyota City-based start-up aims to have the all-electric model approved for first deliveries in 2025.

The next task for the SkyDrive team is to agree on a certification test plan with the JCAB. The company’s latest timeline suggests it will start manufacturing the preproduction prototype next year and have it ready to start flight testing in 2024.

In a written statement, SkyDrive said that agreement over the type certification basis for the SD-05 was based on discussions conducted through Japan’s Public-Private Council for Air Mobility Revolution, which was established with government backing in August 2018. The company said that the requirements for Airworthiness Inspection Manual Part II (Revision 61) are similar to equivalent rules developed for eVTOL aircraft by the FAA and EASA.

“We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the government of Japan and MLIT, as well as to the many organizations and companies that have supported our project,” said SkyDrive chief technology officer Nobuo Kishi. “We are determined to move ahead with the launch of a flying car business and to ultimately make air mobility a reality for society.”

In March, Japanese carmaker Suzuki Motor Corporation got behind SkyDrive's efforts to develop a two-seat personal eVTOL vehicle. Suzuki is now supporting the Toyko-based start-up on multiple aspects of research and development work, preparations for manufacturing, and business planning.

In August 2020, SkyDrive raised ¥3.9 billion ($31 million) in a Series B funding round to support its development of urban air mobility technology, including flying cars and cargo drones. The company, which was founded in 2018 and now has cargo drones with payloads in excess of 30 kg (66 pounds) working at industrial sites, has raised more than $50 million.

The SkyDrive vehicle is one of several eVTOL models expected to start commercial services during the 2025 World Exposition in the Japanese city of Osaka.