An agreement between the state and Joby Aviation Inc., which was revealed on Monday, will soon see the production of cutting-edge electric planes with vertical takeoff and landing in the same Ohio river valley where the Wright brothers invented human flight.
Around the world, electric vertical takeoff and landing, or eVTOL aircraft are entering the mainstream, though questions remain about noise levels and charging demands. Still, developers say the planes are nearing the day when they will provide a wide-scale alternative to shuttle individual people or small groups from rooftops and parking garages to their destinations, while avoiding the congested thoroughfares below.
Joby’s decision to locate its first scaled manufacturing facility at a 140-acre (57-hectar) site at Dayton International Airport delivers on two decades of groundwork laid by the state’s leaders, Republican Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said. Importantly, the site is near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the headquarters of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratories.
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, lived and worked in Dayton. In 1910, they opened the first U.S. airplane factory there. To connect the historical dots, Joby’s formal announcement Monday will take place at Orville Wright’s home, Hawthorn Hill, and conclude with a ceremonial flypast of a replica of the Wright Model B Flyer.
Joby’s production aircraft is designed to transport a pilot and four passengers at speeds of up to 200 miles (321.87 kilometers) per hour, with a maximum range of 100 miles (160.93 kilometers). Its quiet noise profile is barely audible against the backdrop of most cities, the company said. The plan is to place them in aerial ridesharing networks beginning in 2025.
The efforts of the Santa Cruz, California-based company are supported by partnerships with Toyota, Delta Airlines, Intel and Uber. Joby is a 14-year-old company that went public in 2021 and became the first eVTOL firm to receive U.S. Air Force airworthiness certification.
With incentives of up to $325 million from the state of Ohio, its JobsOhio economic development office and local government, plus $500 million of Joby’s own cash, the company plans to build an Ohio facility capable of delivering up to 500 aircraft a year and creating 2,000 jobs. The U.S. Department of Energy has invited Joby to apply for a loan to support development of the facility as a clean energy project.
Construction on the manufacturing facility is expected to begin in 2024, with production to begin in 2025.