Joby Aviation and Volocopter gave the public a clear look at what the future of aviation could look like this weekend, with both companies conducting short demonstration flights of their electric aircraft at New York City.
The demonstration flights were made during a press conference on Sunday, where New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that the city will electrify two of the three heliports located in Manhattan – Downtown Manhattan Heliport and East 34th road. (The third heliport is privately owned.) Beta Technologies, which also manufactures an electric aircraft, demonstrated its interoperable aircraft charging technology at the event.
The move is a big win for so-called “electric vertical take-off and landing” (eVTOL) developers, who will likely need a large public investment to get their commercial air taxi service off the ground in the middle. -half a decade. Some of these investments have already begun to materialize: in September, Joby announced that it would set up a new aircraft factory in Dayton, Ohio, in a deal sweetened with up to $325 million in incentives and benefits to state.
The eVTOL industry has benefited from some major tailwinds – notably, climate commitments from dozens of cities, including New York City, to aggressively reduce carbon emissions and transition to clean energy. New York City’s goal is to reduce emissions by 80% from the 2005 baseline by 2050 – and electrifying the two heliports under its jurisdiction is a part of that.
Joby Aviation has been thinking about New York City for a long time. In October last year, the company announced it would launch commercial service first to New York and Los Angeles, as part of a landmark “city-to-airport” service deal with its investor Delta Airlines. Joby estimates that the service will reduce travel time from Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport to just seven minutes.