Joby’s eVTOL prototype involved in accident during flight testing

Avatar for Jen NevansBy Jen Nevans | February 17, 2022

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 17 seconds.

California-based Joby Aviation has reported that one of its aircraft was involved in an accident on Feb. 16. According to an 8-K filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the incident involved a remotely piloted eVTOL prototype at a remote flight test base in California.

Joby eVTOL certification
According to an 8-K filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, one of Joby Aviation’s eVTOL prototype was involved in an accident during flight testing on Feb. 16. Joby Image

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the accident, which it confirmed took place in Jolon, California.

“The investigation is in the very early stages,” NTSB public affairs officer Eric Weiss told “We are dispatching a team of three investigators … we understand there was substantial damage.”

The NTSB, which investigates all civil aviation accidents in the U.S., said it expects to have a preliminary report out “in about two weeks. The full investigation could take 12 to 18 months.”

In its SEC filing, Joby reported no injuries from the accident, and the company said it is supporting authorities as the investigation into the incident continues.

Over the last month leading up to the accident, Joby had been expanding its flight envelope, sharing details on social media about its intention to reach top speeds of more than 200 miles per hour (322 kilometers per hour) and altitudes of 10,000 feet (3,050 meters). ADS-B Exchange data recorded groundspeeds of up to 276 mph (444 km/h) during the day of the crash.

“Safety is a core value for Joby, which is why we have been expanding our flight envelope with a remote pilot and in an uninhabited area, especially as we operate outside expected operating conditions,” the company stated in its filing. “Experimental flight test programs are intentionally designed to determine the limits of aircraft performance, and accidents are unfortunately a possibility.”

Joby expects to obtain type certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in 2023, and begin commercial operations in 2024. In December, the eVTOL developer scaled up its flight test program by adding a second eVTOL prototype to its fleet — intended to be used for flight testing through the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program.  

Joby’s five-seat aircraft is targeting a range of 150 mi (241 km) on a single charge, and a top speed of 200 mph (322 km/h).

This article has been updated with comments from NTSB and data from the flight test during the day of the crash.

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  1. Would be interesting to have revealed exactly what the con ops were even if only in the broadest of scopes. Flying is not flight test. What type of infrastructure was involved to support the mission is also a strong clue.

  2. 12 months? What did somebody die? I fully expect that evtols will get undue scrutiny while , in automobiles 38000 are killed every year and 4+ million seriously injured. Yes, 4+million. The first evtol that kills some one will shutter the whole thing for months possibly years. Just look at their estimate of 12 months for a simple crash with no pilot. I call BS

    1. Remember there are nearly 290,000,000 cars roaming American roads and only maybe 30 eVTOL aircrafts.

  3. Hang in there for finding the cars and a better fix. What are you fine will be helpful for others. Wishing you great exploration for the benefit of all. Thank you for the rescue take that all may learn I am benefit! Sincerely, Vic. Tees

  4. I would suspect flutter given the configuration (propeller whirl) or catastrophic failure if any blade let go –276 MPH is not terribly fast (the 1936 Spitfire went to nearly 600 MPH in test and survived ..) — if loss of control or overcontrol was involved or the speed unintentional it could be overload –the degree of telemetry being used should tell them almost right away what was most likely ( no suicidal pilot or mad robot on the cockpit voice recorder ..)
    Software is going to be an issue with all these fly by wire unstable devices . Maybe it just flew into the ground…

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