Electric air taxi company Joby Aviation names former FAA administrator as director
Joby Aviation, a company developing all-electric aircraft for commercial passenger service, on Friday named former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta to its Board of Directors.
The appointment may potentially help Joby, which has been pushing to win FAA certification for its vertical take-off and landing aircraft ahead of starting planned commercial passenger service in 2025.
Before serving as FAA administrator, Huerta also serves on the Board of Directors for Delta Air Lines, which announced a multi-year, multi-market commercial and operational partnership with Joby in October 2022. As part of this agreement, Delta made an up-front equity investment of $60 million in Joby, with the potential for a total investment of up to $200 million based on the achievement of mutually agreed progress milestones.
Commenting on the appointment, Joby Executive Chairman Paul Sciarra said 2023 will be a “pivotal” year for “making real progress” in that process, and that Huerta will be “bringing perspective” to that work.
After serving three years as deputy administrator, Huerta became the FAA administrator from 2013 to 2018. He later joined the board of Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) in 2018, which recently invested $60 million in Joby to acquire a 2% equity stake.
According to Joby CEO JoeBen Bevirt, Huerta’s presence on both boards will be incredibly beneficial as the company prepares for commercial operations.
In November, the FAA established airworthiness criteria for Joby to certify its Model JAS4-1 aircraft. Additionally, the agency is in the process of finalizing special regulations for commercial operations and training related to these aircraft.
“Michael is joining our team at a pivotal time for Joby and the broader eVTOL industry, and his dual seat on Joby and Delta’s Boards will be invaluable as we prepare for commercial operations,” said JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby. “He has been a strong proponent of electric aircraft and future aviation technologies, and we’re grateful for the passion and depth of experience he brings to our team,” Joby said in a news release.
Founded in 2009 by JoeBen Bevirt, the Santa Cruz, California-based Joby Aviation’s aircraft is a piloted, five-seat vehicle capable of both vertical takeoff and landing and highly efficient, windborne forward flight. It is capable of speeds of 200 miles per hour and can fly over 150 miles on a single charge. The aircraft is 100 times quieter than conventional aircraft during takeoff and landing, and near-silent when flying overhead. The passenger experience is optimized for comfortable ride-sharing operations and efficient entry and exit.
“We are building a new system for transportation to transform your daily life, at greater safety and, in time, at a similar cost to driving,” Joby Aviation founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt said back in 2020.
Before going public, the secretive aviation startup had raised $100 million for the development of the company’s air taxi prototype, which, according to a report in Bloomberg, has been conducting test flights at Joby’s private airfield in Northern California. The funding came from a variety of investors, including the venture capital arms of Intel, Toyota, and JetBlue.