NASA Begins Trials For Electric Air Taxi

NASA has commenced flight testing an innovative electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, designed by Joby Aviation, for use as an air taxi under its Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign. Testing, Joby’s Electric Flight Base located near Big Sur, California, concluded on Friday 10 September. reports that it is the first time that NASA has tested an eVTOL aircraft as part of the AAM campaign, with hopes that eVTOL vehicles could serve as air taxis in urban regions.

NASA aims to collect vehicle performance and acoustic data for use in modelling and simulation of future aerospace concepts.

The test will help identify gaps in the current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and policies to enable the implementation of AAM aircraft into the National Airspace System.

Davis Hackenberg, NASA’s AAM mission integration manager, said: “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.”

Analysis of the data collected from the testing Joby’s eVTOL aircraft, which was designed with the intent of serving as a commercial passenger vehicle, will help inform the AAM National Campaign for its first set of campaign tests, known as NC-1, in 2022, with more complex flight scenarios and other industry vehicles.

As the Joby aircraft flies planned test scenarios, the NASA team will collect information about how the vehicle moves, how the vehicle sounds, and how the vehicle communicates with controllers. Future partners will fly similar scenarios to evaluate their vehicle readiness.

The tests will help establish a baseline for NASA to ensure that external ranges participating in NC-1 meet the protocols for future testing. The team will also test NASA’s flight safety and airworthiness processes to approve participants to fly in the campaign.

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