Joby Aviation has begun the final assembly of what it refers to as the first “company-conforming” example of its four-passenger eVTOL aircraft. This is the first vehicle to be produced in the California company’s pilot manufacturing plant in Marina, and it is being built in accordance with an officially released design and a quality management system.
According to Joby, the move marks another key stage in its path to achieving FAA type certification. It was announced on February 14, less than a week after the company said it had completed the second of five stages in the type certification process by completing the steps required by a compliance document that outlines all the ways the company plans to comply with safety rules that were defined in its certification basis.
Joby views the start of final assembly as the first of two stages in its path to officially-sanctioned mass production. Under the still-pending FAA production-conforming stage, the company's aircraft will be ready to begin for-credit testing by the U.S. aviation safety agency.
“Beginning final assembly of our first company-conforming aircraft is a critical achievement for Joby and a landmark for the wider eVTOL industry,” commented Joby’s head of aircraft OEM, Didier Papadopoulos. “It unlocks the path ahead and allows us to exercise our quality management system in preparation for type certification and a subsequent production certification.”
Having built the as-yet-unnamed eVTOL model’s wing, tail, and fuselage, Joby has now started to mate the structures together and install the wiring, electronics, actuation, and propulsion systems. The company, backed by avionics supplier Garmin and aerostructures partners Toray, says it expects the aircraft to be ready to start flight testing during the first half of 2023.
Joby’s quality management system includes tracking and documentation of every part of the aircraft, as well as the configuration management of engineering drawings, environmental conditions during fabrication, and actional taken by manufacturing technicians. This system is subject to regular audits by FAA inspectors as the company completes the process it hopes will lead to a production certificate after the aircraft itself is type certified.
Meanwhile, Joby is continuing to evaluate several U.S. states as possible sites to build its Phase 1 production facility. Rival eVTOL developer Archer last year announced its main production line will be in Georgia.