NEW YORK — It can be furiously frustrating to get stuck in an iconic yellow cab in Manhattan, watching the meter run while sitting in brutal Fifth Avenue traffic. So what if you could hail a cab in the sky to beat the gridlock? It sounds like sci-fi, but it could soon be reality after the first-ever electric air taxi flight took off over the bustling skyline of New York City this week.
This landmark event by Joby Aviation took place on November 12 from Manhattan’s iconic Downtown Heliport. The electric air taxi flight marks the company’s first foray into urban airspace, signaling a transformative shift in urban travel dynamics.
In a bold move to support this futuristic vision, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced the city’s ambitious plan to electrify the Downtown Heliport. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to make New York a global frontrunner in adopting clean and quiet aerial transportation solutions.
A Quantum Leap In Urban Travel
Looking ahead to 2025, Joby Aviation is set to revolutionize the way New Yorkers commute. The company’s proposed commercial passenger service is not just a mere improvement but a radical change. It promises to slash the journey time from Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport from over an hour by car to a breathtaking seven minutes by air.
“By electrifying one of the most famous heliports in the world, New York is demonstrating global leadership in the adoption of electric air travel. We’re grateful for the city’s support, and we’re honored to be working with visionary partners like Delta Air Lines to bring our air taxi service to this market,” says JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, in a statement. “We plan to make quiet, emissions-free flight an affordable, everyday reality for New Yorkers, while significantly reducing the impact of helicopter noise.”
Joby Aviation’s aircraft stands out with its notably lower acoustic footprint compared to traditional helicopters, making it ideal for operations in densely populated areas like New York City. In collaboration with NASA in 2022, the aircraft’s noise level was measured at a mere 45.2 A-weighted decibels (dBA) when flying at 1640 feet – quieter than a typical conversation.
Since 2017, the company’s full-scale prototype eVTOL aircraft has logged over 30,000 miles. Recently, the first aircraft from its Pilot Production Plant in Marina, California, rolled out, marking another significant milestone. Furthermore, Joby Aviation has already delivered the first electric air taxi to the U.S. Air Force for on-base operational testing.
What The Future Holds For Joby’s Electric Air Taxi
In its strategic alliance with Delta, Joby Aviation is eyeing New York as one of its initial launch markets post-Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification. The plan envisions offering fast, quiet journeys in a piloted, four-passenger electric aircraft with zero operating emissions. The aircraft, capable of flying up to 100 miles on a single charge, is designed for rapid, back-to-back flights, covering 99% of all trips across New York City’s five boroughs.
Joby and Delta are also closely coordinating with the Port Authority of New York and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to lay the groundwork for initial operations. This includes developing the necessary infrastructure at JFK and LaGuardia International Airports.
As the cityscape of New York transforms with the advent of this new age of air mobility, the eyes of the world are set on how this bold vision will reshape urban travel, making it faster, cleaner, and quieter. Joby Aviation’s first electric air taxi flight over New York City is not just a test flight; it’s the dawn of a new era in urban transportation.
South West News Service writer Dean Murray contributed to this report.