Joby has announced today it has begun conformity testing with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the first step of many towards achieving a type certificate, and a significant milestone for the program. Joby’s first series of conformity tests, observed and documented by an on-site FAA Designated Engineering Representative (DER), were completed this week at Toray Advanced Composites USA’s facility in Morgan Hill, CA.

The purpose of the tests was to demonstrate the material strength of composites similar to those used on Joby’s aircraft. The resultant data will form the foundation for future testing of structural components of the aircraft as Joby progresses through the type certification process.

“After years of development and company testing, we’re excited to formally begin the process of conformity testing,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby. “We began engaging with the FAA in 2015 to lay the groundwork for certification of our aircraft, and today we move closer to bringing fast, clean and convenient aerial ridesharing to the world.”

In pursuit of an FAA type certificate, Joby will have to demonstrate their compliance with FAA regulations following completion and receive approval of requirements definitions and compliance planning. During this phase, Joby will complete thousands of inspections and tests to demonstrate the airworthiness and safety of its aircraft before receiving a type certificate from the FAA.

In November, Joby completed its first FAA part conformity inspection as expected, confirming that the batch of test coupons used in the “for credit” testing conformed to the attributes and specifications of their associated design data as intended for the aircraft’s type certification.

The coupons, constructed using a toughened epoxy and state-of-the-art carbon fiber, result in a material that is lighter and stronger than existing aerospace-grade composite, which is ideal for a high-performance eVTOL aircraft.

“Entering this stage of testing demonstrates that we’re capable of manufacturing composite parts in accordance with their design, our quality system is capable of producing conforming composite parts for the aircraft, and that we have the requisite traceability and design verification processes in place to progress toward our type and production certifications,” said Lina Spross, quality and supply chain lead at Joby.

In 2020, Joby became the first and only eVTOL company to sign a G-1 (stage 4) certification basis with the FAA, having received an initial (stage 2) signed G-1 from the FAA in 2019. In parallel with this work, the company continues to make progress with the FAA on defining the means of compliance that will apply to its aircraft as it progresses with certification efforts.

Why it matters: Conducting certification testing with the FAA is a significant accomplishment for Joby Aviation; not only because it is a key hurdle in commercializing an aerospace product, but also because it means the FAA recognizes the maturity of the design and manufacturing practices used by Joby. Currently, Joby is a leader in this phase, meaning it has an excellent competitive advantage toward being first to market with its aircraft. As a certification plan is agreed upon and finalized, expect to see larger scale tests of systems and flight profiles.

Posted by Ross Piscoran