On The Radar
Joby Aviation has released an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) report for 2022. The publication is a first for the California-based company and appears to be the first of its kind by an eVTOL aircraft developer.
ESG reports are increasingly de rigueur for public companies looking to define and establish their credentials for corporate responsibility beyond what laws require. The first main section is on safety and covers actions you would largely expect from any company involved in such safety-critical activities as building and operating aircraft. If anything, the sections of the report dealing with environmental sustainability and people/community seem more revealing in terms of Joby’s core beliefs and commitments to act progressively as well as responsibly.
Joby has sought to demonstrate that beyond its commitment to bring a net zero carbon aircraft into commercial service, it appreciates the need to get its own house in order when it comes to reducing the impact of its business on the climate and environment. So, for instance, the ESG report explains how it has started to measure the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its operations and then sought to mitigate these through measures such as transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy to run its offices and facilities. It is also acting to reduce waste in its business activities and in the manufacturing process, where it is now recycling carbon fiber and metal and reusing batteries.
The report includes an interesting section on the projected life-cycle impact of Joby’s four-passenger eVTOL vehicle, which is set to enter service in 2025. In a process that is subject to audit by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the company estimates that the GHG footprint of its aircraft will be 1.5 times lower than that of current electric cars on a per-passenger-mile basis.
In an aviation sector that is struggling to attract and retain talent, Joby has more than doubled the size of its workforce from just over 600 people at the start of 2021 to a current total of more than 1,400. The payroll is extraordinarily youthful, with 91 percent being either millennials (55.1 percent), Generation X (25.6 percent), or Generation Z (10.3 percent). Baby boomers remain a cherished minority at 8.9 percent.
While other eVTOL pioneers appear not to have produced their own ERG reports, that’s not to say they have no interest in the topics covered. Germany’s Lilium, for example, has its own sustainability statement as part of its corporate governance output. This week, Volocopter published its own new assessment as to how eVTOL aircraft like its VoloCity will drive carbon out of air transport. Eve Air Mobility has yet to publish its own sustainability report, but its efforts in this direction are covered by the wider ESG statement posted by its main shareholder, the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer.
Beta Technologies said it is also strongly motivated by a desire to take a lead in green technology. "We built Beta because we believe it is our generation's call to action to call turn the corner on climate change," chief operating officer Blain Newton told FutureFlight. "As a group of aviators and engineers, we wanted to do our part by helping to decarbonize aviation. This goal has driven nearly every one of our design decisions, from making our charging infrastructure multi-modal and interoperable in order to support the broader transition to electric [propulsion], to designing our electric aircraft for increased range because longer-range trips produce lowered emissions."
Vermont-based Beta has also been investing in efforts to regenerate aviation's workforce, with initiatives to recruit and train local young people. Earlier this year, these efforts were recognized during a visit to the company by U.S. First Lady Jill Biden.