Joby Aviation will mass-produce its four-passenger eVTOL in Dayton, Ohio—home of the Wright Brothers. The California-based eVTOL aircraft developer announced on Monday that it will build its first scaled production facility at Dayton International Airport, where it intends to manufacture hundreds of aircraft per year together with its partner Toyota.
“We’re building the future of aviation right where it all started, in Dayton, Ohio,” said Joby founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt. “The Wright Brothers harnessed revolutionary technology of their time to open up the skies, and we intend to do the same—this time, bringing quiet and emissions-free flight that we hope will have an equally profound impact on our world.”
Construction on the 140-acre site, which is currently an empty plot, is expected to begin in 2024. Joby plans to open the facility and begin producing aircraft there in 2025—the same year it expects to complete the FAA type certification process and begin commercial air taxi operations. Both Joby and rival eVTOL developer Archer Aviation have now chosen to start mass production in lower-cost states than California, with the latter in the process of building a new factory in Georgia for its Midnight vehicle. Joby said it considered several other states as the location for its new manufacturing hub.
Joby has already begun producing its first few production-conforming aircraft at its pilot facility in Marina, California, where it recently rolled out the first aircraft it intends to deliver to Edwards Air Force Base as part of its contract with the U.S. Air Force. Located about 35 miles south of Joby’s headquarters in Santa Cruz, the pilot production facility is where Joby and Toyota have been developing their manufacturing processes in preparation for mass production.
The company says its Marina facility is capable of manufacturing dozens of aircraft per year and will continue its role as the pilot production line and innovation facility. Some 150 positions are now open for recruitment at that site.
The Phase 1 production facility in Dayton will be a scaled-up version of the assembly line in Marina, and it will be capable of producing up to 500 aircraft per year, according to Joby. The company says its Dayton site has “the potential to support significant further growth over time,” with enough room for up to 2 million square feet of manufacturing space.
The new factory will employ up to 2,000 people in the Dayton area, and the company says it will begin recruiting employees in the coming months. Its earliest hires will mostly be dedicated to building out the facility and machining parts that will initially be shipped back to Marina to support the pilot assembly line before full-scale production begins. Further details about new positions at the Ohio facility can be found at this web portal, where prospective candidates can register their interest.
In the meantime, Joby says it will “use existing nearby buildings to begin near-term operations. Early roles are expected to focus on the build-out of the facility and the machining of parts that will initially be incorporated into Joby's low-volume production line in California.
Joby says it was offered up to $325 million in incentives from the state of Ohio and local governments to support the development of the facility. Meanwhile, Joby will invest up to $500 million to scale the facility. The company also announced on Monday that the U.S. Department of Energy has invited it to apply for special financing under its Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program, which provides low-interest loans for clean energy projects.
Range Limit Reboot, But No Mission Change
Joby’s all-electric air taxi, which has room for four passengers plus one pilot, is designed to fly on trips of up to 100 miles while producing zero emissions, and at speeds of up to 200 mph. The company will not only mass-produce the aircraft, but it also intends to operate them for commercial air taxi services in cities.
In recent months, Joby has started citing 100 miles as the maximum range for the electric aircraft, having previously projected 150 miles. The company did not explain the apparent change directly, but indicated that it does not expect the planned air taxi services to be compromised. "Our production aircraft is tailor-built for our primary mission, which is rapid, back-to-back trips of around 20 to 25 miles, of which the majority of journeys in New York and Los Angeles are of that distance or less," a spokesperson told AIN in an email. "We expect to be able to perform these missions with little or no extra charging time required in between flights."
Joby's announcement of Dayton as its base for mass-producing the eVTOL aircraft was due to be marked by an event at Hawthorne Hill, the former home of Orville Wright. This was expected to conclude with a ceremonial flypast of a replica Model "B" Flyer, which was the world's first production aircraft.
Dayton Development Coalition president and CEO Jeff. Hoagland said the state government had urged the group to "land an eVTOL manufacturing facility" at its annual meeting in February 2022. "Twenty years ago, we developed a strategy aimed at supporting an emerging industry that not only aligned with the missions at Wright-Patt [the Wright-Patterson U.S. Air Force base], but represented the opportunity for private industry investment as well," he commented. "Our region's eVTOL tagline has urged companies to leverage the region's network of resources and 'Come here to test, stay here to build.' Joby is doing exactly that."