Joby delays eVTOL service launch due to regulatory and internal delays

Joby Aviation (NYSE: JOBY) is delaying the commercial service launch of its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) services until 2025, in part because of regulatory hurdles, company founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt said Thursday.

Bevirt told investors that hurdles with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) — as well as Joby’s emphasis on vertical integration — are the reasons for delaying the launch from 2024 as he originally planned.

In certifying his launch vehicle, Joby said he should wait for the FAA to release its Special Federal Aviation Regulations (SFARs), which is necessary for eVTOL companies to have a clear path to certification. That’s a change from what Joby said earlier this year when the FAA released its amended regulatory approach to type certification. At the time, Joby said he didn’t expect any delays, but Bevirt told investors the volume of work ahead was greater than expected.

“We originally thought we would certify our aircraft with the FAA under Part 2117A,” Bevirt said. “This path would not have required new or changed regulations on the operational side. The FAA has informed the industry that we will instead be certifying our aircraft under path 2117B. This means that to operate our aircraft we will need SFARs in place, and the FAA has indicated that they do not expect them to be finalized until the end of 2024. So we do not expect that that commercial passenger service begins before 2025.”

Still, the CEO was accommodating to the FAA and thanked them for their leadership in what he described as a “nascent industry.”

The other point of contention that the company says will delay its commercial launch is its different approach to vertically integrating its development and launch programs.

“We’ve been focused on vertical integration, and that’s a huge plus, but it also means we’re taking on a lot of work,” Bevirt said. He explained that the company was investing in changing its manufacturing process to make it more efficient. This would allow Joby to build powertrain components and digitize its build system, as well as other things, such as prototyping and testing, faster than competitors, Bevirt said.

“We are building a next generation aviation company. It’s hard work, but it will pay huge dividends,” he said.

Despite the setback, the company’s third quarter reflected the culmination of Delta Air Lines’ initial $60 million equity investment in the startup to launch home-to-airport service.

Joby’s chief financial officer, Matthew Field, shared with investors that the combination with the major airline was unique in the aviation industry, particularly because Delta could invest up to $140 million through mandates related to operating steps. For Joby, it gives them an extra boost as they try to get their vehicle certified.

As for expenses, the company said its overall loss for the quarter was $79.2 million. The company continues to increase its personnel to support operating and research and development costs to build, test and launch its production aircraft. Joby said he will now hire nearly 1,400 workers worldwide.

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