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Watch an Electric Air Taxi Take Its First Flight Over New York City

by multimill
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If Manhattanites noticed a small, quiet aircraft taking off from the Downtown Heliport and flying over the East River on Sunday, it wasn’t a UFO—but rather a glimpse into the city’s air-taxi future.

Joby’s one-pilot, four-passenger aircraft performed the first-ever electric air taxi flight over New York City, just over a month after making its first piloted flight in California. During the event, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the city will electrify the heliport, giving Joby and other eVTOL manufacturers a vertiport in downtown Manhattan.

JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of California-based Joby, praised the city for its “global leadership,” while saying his whirlybird will make emissions-free flight “an affordable, everyday reality” for New Yorkers—while sticking in a not-so-subtle dig at helicopters, which have much higher decibel levels. Joby’s electric air taxis, according to tests it conducted with NASA, will have decibel levels of 45.2 when flying at 1,640 feet, typical to a human conversation at normal voice levels or a suburban area at night. By contrast, a jet at 100 feet generates 140 DbA.

EVTOL Electric Air Taxi Joby Aviation

This could be a common sight over Manhattan by 2025.

Joby Aviation

The company is partnering with Delta Airlines and intends to make New York one of its early launch markets, pending FAA approval in 2025. The partners are working with the Port Authority of New York and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to develop infrastructure at JFK and LaGuardia International Airport (LGA).

Joby expects a trip from Wall Street to JFK to take about seven minutes by air. It says it could cover 99 percent of all trips taken across New York City’s five boroughs.

Other eVTOL manufacturers that have tested their air taxis over cities include Germany-based Volocopter, which flew its two-person electric aircraft over Paris during last summer’s Paris Air Show and in October at the NBAA BACE conference in Las Vegas.

EVTOL Joby Aviation

Joby’s new four-person air taxi at Manhattan’s heliport.

Joby Aviation

China-based eHang claims about 40,000 tests with its two-passenger, autonomous aircraft over cities in Guangdong province. Last month, eHang became the world’s first electric air taxi to be certified, by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), opening the door to commercial use. Last February, Beta Technologies and charter aviation company Blade flew one of Beta’s electric aircraft from White Plains, just north of Manhattan, while Wisk completed eVTOL test flights last month in Los Angeles County.

Joby and competitors like Archer, Wisk, Lilium and a half-dozen others have global plans to establish infrastructures beyond North America. South Korea, Japan and the UAE will eventually have eVTOL networks with Joby aircraft, according to recent partnership announcements. Joby will also have a UK presence, thanks to its partnership with Delta.

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