US flying car startup seeks aircraft certification in Japan

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November 2 – Tokyo (The Japan News/ANN) – US air taxi company Joby Aviation Inc. has applied for certification from the Japanese government as the flying car start-up pushes ahead with plans to mass-produce its all-electric plane .

Backed by Toyota Motor Corp. and other companies, Joby developed a five-seat vertical take-off and landing aircraft, with a maximum range of about 240 kilometers and a top speed of about 320 km/h.

At a press conference on October 18, Justin Lang, head of Joby, said the company wanted to launch a service connecting major cities as soon as possible, as Japan is an attractive market in which more than 90% of the population lives in urban areas.

Joby announced a business combination with ANA Holdings Inc. in February, with the Japanese carrier providing the US company with flight management technology and pilot training.

In addition to offering technical support for mass production, Toyota will help with ground services, providing transportation to and from air taxi ports.

Joby applied for what’s called “type certification,” which involves checking the performance and strength of aircraft parts. If the aircraft meets the requirements, the manufacturer will be able to start serial production.

After that, the manufacturer will also have to apply for an “airworthiness certification”, which is equivalent to a vehicle inspection and consists of checking the structure and strength of each aircraft.

The plane can be put into service once the company has received the two certificates, for which the procedures are almost identical to those of passenger planes, but will involve control criteria specific to electric planes in the case of Joby.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism works out the details of the selection procedures. A ministry official said it will likely take several years before the certification is issued.

On October 18, Japanese and American aviation authorities agreed to advance cooperation on flying cars. They plan to organize working discussions to exchange information and share their know-how in order to respond quickly to the efforts of the private sector.

“Closer cooperation with the United States, which has advanced knowledge in the field, will accelerate the development of the environment for the operation of flying cars in Japan,” said the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport. and Tourism, Tetsuo Saito.

Joby is the second flying vehicle maker to apply for type certification after SkyDrive Inc., a start-up based in Aichi Prefecture, which applied in October last year.

The Japanese government wants to have flying cars in service by 2025.

The competition for development is intensifying around the world. The market is expected to be worth 223 trillion yen in 2040 from 1.1 trillion yen in 2020, according to Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC.

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