Joby Aviation and Beta Technologies, both partners in the US Air Force’s Agility Prime program, are opening an office close to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. The eVTOL manufacturers will both set up simulators for their new urban air mobility vehicles at the nearby Springfield-Beckley Minicipal airport early next year. The Springfield airspace has been approved for testing unmanned aircraft beyond visual line of sight, making in the perfect place to establish a continued workforce for testing.
The Air Force’s “race to certification” initiative supports eVTOL developers financially and with testing facilities and expertise. It seeks to bring together industry, government and investors to advance the urban air mobility market. Late August, the USAF witnessed the first manned demonstration flight from one of the Agility Prime partners.
Joby Aviation and Beta Technologies are both working on their vision to making flying taxis happen, each taking a slightly different approach. Joby uses 6 rotors that all tilt when transitioning from hover to a a more efficient forward flight with a fixed wing. The company was founded in 2009 and has successfully flown different eVTOL prototypes before settling on their current design. Beta Technologies’ ALIA-250C uses 4 rotors for vertical flight and a separate three-bladed propeller for forward propulsion. The 4 lift rotors can feather for more efficiency when the fixed wing provides lift. The company, founded in 2017, designed its manned Ava-prototype in 10 months and the largest eVTOL to have flown.