NASA has begun testing a so-called ‘air taxi’ which could hit speeds as fast as 200mph.
The space agency started the trails on Monday, August 30, alongside Joby Aviation, which will run through to September 10.
The airliner is described as an all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, with Monday marking the first time NASA has tested an eVTOL aircraft as part of its Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign.
Joby Aviation is the first company to take part in NASA‘s AAM campaign.
The vehicle can seat up to four people, has a range of 150 miles, can travel at up to 200mph and is intended to serve as a commercial passenger service in the future.
Davis Hackenberg, NASA AAM mission integration manager, said of the ongoing tests and AAM campaign:
The National Campaign Developmental Testing is an important strategic step in NASA’s goals to accelerate the AAM industry timeline. These testing scenarios will help inform gaps in current standards to benefit the industry’s progress of integrating AAM vehicles into the airspace.
In light of the data being collected from the future air taxi, AAM will be able to start planning the first set of campaign tests, known as NC-1. It’s believed they’re aiming to start these next year.
JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, has described the company’s vehicle as ‘critical to driving scientific understanding and public acceptance of Joby’s eVTOL aircraft’.
Not only could the aircraft be ground-breaking in terms of producing zero carbon missions, unlike most other airliners, the Joby eVTOL can land vertically, meaning it doesn’t need a runway to land.
With this in mind, the innovative automobile will be able to land near enough anywhere and everywhere.
In regards to having people on board Joby’s eVTOL, the team conducting the tests will have to trial NASA’s flight safety and airworthiness processes to ensure it’s safe.
The testing team will monitor the aircraft’s sound profile to see how it compares to helicopters and other gas-powered vehicles, as well.
According to The Verge, a large selling point of an eVTOL is that they generate less noise than helicopters.
In addition to conducting the tests, NASA will also advise the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on new rules its writing to suit air taxi’s like Joby’s, as the likes of Joby and other eVTOL companies will eventually need FAA certification to be able to operate.
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