These Air Taxis May Replace U.S. Troop Transport

On Tuesday, electric aircraft maker Joby Aviation announced that the Department of Defense has extended its contract to provide and operate “air taxis” to transport people and cargo at Edwards Air Force Base in California, Axios reported.

Joby, which has developed an electric aircraft that can take off and land vertically, was awarded a $55 million extension by the Defense Department, increasing their total contract with the US Air Force to $131 million.

As part of the contract, Joby will provide and operate as many as nine eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft) to the Air Force. The first two aircraft are expected to be in operation at Edwards Air Force Base by March 2024, making them the first electric “air taxis” at a US military base.

These eVTOLs will offer the Air Force, along with other federal agencies including the FAA and NASA firsthand experience in advanced electric aircraft. Currently, Joby is training some Air Force pilots on operating the vehicles, although the company will remain the primary operator for the eVTOLs stationed at Edwards.

Joby’s executive chairman Paul Sciarra told Axios that the company’s contract with the Pentagon is “an important milestone” both for Joby and for the eVOTL industry as a whole.

The “air taxi” made by Joby is a low-noise electric aircraft that seats five and operates with zero emissions. According to Axios, the Air Force is working with other eVOTL makers as well as it seeks to accelerate air mobility as part of its Agile Prime program.

In February, Joby announced that it had completed the second phase of the FAA’s certification process to certify its eVTOLs for commercial passenger use, becoming the first eVOTL company to reach that stage.

The company has set a target to launch its commercial passenger service by next year.