Joby Aviation has partnered with Japanese airline ANA to bring air transportation services to Japan. Toyota Motor Corporation will also partner with the two companies to explore ways to connect the air taxis with ground transportation.
Joby’s intention to start operations in Japan comes to light a week after the company announced plans to launch an air taxi service in South Korea in partnership with SK Telecom. Joby will partner with SKT spin-off T Map Mobility platform to integrate air taxis into T Map’s subscription-based mobility-as-a-service platform.
The companies could not provide details about the service, such as when they would be flying Joby’s planes, when they expect to bring a commercial service to Japan, and whether ANA or Joby would operate it or how customers would interact with it. Those details will come “in due course,” according to a Joby spokesperson, who noted that Joby, ANA and Toyota are now in the planning stages as they consider steps such as infrastructure development, pilot training, flight operations, regulatory requirements, public acceptance. and how to connect air transportation to the larger transit ecosystem.
Toyota represents not only a partner in this future service, but also one of Joby’s strategic investors. The auto giant led Joby’s Series C round of $590 million in 2020 and has shared expertise with the startup in electrification technology, manufacturing, quality and cost control, according to a Joby spokesperson.
“Today’s announcement is the first step in determining what a future air taxi service could look like in Japan,” the spokesperson told Referus. “The parties will now work together on all aspects of establishing this revolutionary new form of transport, including possible routes.”
Joby’s plane has a maximum range of 150 miles and a top speed of 200 miles per hour. The startup estimates that a journey from Kansai International Airport to Osaka train station could take less than 15 minutes in one of its vehicles, rather than an hour by car.
Joby’s Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing Vehicles (eVTOL) can accommodate just four passengers, so for early applications, commercial services are likely to be limited. Until Joby starts mass-producing his current models or building much larger eVTOLs, we’re probably a few years away from air taxi services that are commonplace. That’s not only because of the time and money it takes to build eVTOLs, but also because of potential regulatory delays. Joby has yet to be certified in any market it tries to enter, but last week it reached a milestone with the Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. Department of Transportation by establishing a G-1, or phase four, Certification Base for its aircraft. sign. This will allow the company to start compliance testing and enter the “implementation phase” in the US, which basically means Joby got the OK to design and manufacture composite parts for its aircraft.
In Japan, certification of eVTOLs is being studied by the Public-Private Council for the Air Mobility Revolution, a combination of academics, researchers, airlines, startups and government agencies looking to accelerate the adoption of air transportation in Japan — Joby, Toyota, and ANA are all members of this group. The final certification is authorized by the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, which is part of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.