NASA begins testing electric air taxi


NASA has started flight testing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with Joby Aviation for air taxi services as part of its National Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) campaign. Testing will continue through September 10, Friday, at the Joby Electric Flight Base near Big Sur, California.

This is the first time that NASA has tested an eVTOL aircraft as part of the national AAM campaign. In the future, eVTOL planes could serve as air taxis for urban regions and surrounding areas, adding another mode of transportation to move people and goods.

NASA will collect vehicle performance and acoustic data for use in modeling and simulating future airspace concepts. This test will help identify gaps in current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and policies to help integrate AAM aircraft into the national airspace system. This multi-event campaign took place in several locations over several years.

“The National Campaign Development Testing is an important strategic step in NASA’s goals to accelerate the AAM industry schedule. These test cases will help fill gaps in current standards for the benefit of industry advancements in integrating AAM vehicles into airspace, ”said Davis Hackenberg, Head of AAM Mission Integration at the NASA.

During this series of tests, NASA will collect data from Joby’s eVTOL aircraft, which is intended to serve as a commercial passenger service in the future. Analyzing this data prepares the AAM National Campaign to run the first round of campaign tests scheduled for 2022, known as NC-1, with more complex flight scenarios and other industry vehicles.

As the Joby plane flies through planned test scenarios, the NASA team will collect information on how the vehicle moves, the sound of the vehicle, and how the vehicle communicates with controllers. Future partners will pilot similar scenarios to assess the readiness of their vehicle.

The team will deploy the mobile acoustic installation and build an array of more than 50 microphones to measure the acoustic profile of Joby’s aircraft in different phases of flight.

“NASA’s AAM National Campaign is essential to the scientific understanding and public acceptance of eVTOL aircraft. We are incredibly proud to have worked closely with NASA on electric flight for the past 10 years and to be the first eVTOL company to fly as part of the campaign, ”said JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO by Joby Aviation.

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

When fully integrated into national airspace, AAM will provide an efficient and affordable system for transporting passengers and cargo, as well as other public interest applications, NASA said. This system could include planes such as parcel delivery drones, air taxis and medical transport vehicles.

AAM is an aviation system that encompasses the development and deployment of aviation in innovative ways that are not generally seen today. The National AAM Campaign is managed by NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility Project, which plans to be a community catalyst for the development and validation of concepts and system-level solutions for AAM. The AAM project is part of the Agency’s Aeronautical Research Mission Department.

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