Wed | Nov 29, 2023

Hundreds of flying taxis to be made in Ohio, home of the Wright brothers

Published:Tuesday | September 19, 2023 | 12:07 AM
In this 2022 photo provided by Joby Aviation is Joby’s pre-production prototype aircraft at the company’s flight test facility in Marina, California. The same Ohio river valley where the Wright brothers pioneered human flight will soon manufacture cutt
In this 2022 photo provided by Joby Aviation is Joby’s pre-production prototype aircraft at the company’s flight test facility in Marina, California. The same Ohio river valley where the Wright brothers pioneered human flight will soon manufacture cutting-edge electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP):

The same Ohio river valley where the Wright brothers pioneered human flight will soon be manufacturing cutting-edge electric planes that take off and land vertically, under an agreement announced on Monday between the state and Joby Aviation Inc.

“When you’re talking about air taxis, that’s the future,” Republican Governor Mike DeWine told The Associated Press. “We find this very, very exciting – not only for the direct jobs and indirect jobs it’s going to create, but like Intel, it’s a signal to people that Ohio is looking to the future. This is a big deal for us.”

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 widescale 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-hectare) site at Dayton International Airport delivers on two decades of groundwork laid by the state’s leaders, Republican Lt Governor Jon Husted said. Importantly, the site is near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the headquarters of the US Air Force Research Laboratories.

“For a hundred years, the Dayton area has been a leader in aviation innovation,” Husted said. “But capturing a large-scale manufacturer of aircraft has always eluded the local economy there. With this announcement, that aspiration has been realised.”

The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, lived and worked in Dayton. In 1910, they opened the first US airplane factory there. To connect the historical dots, Joby’s formal announcement on Monday took place at Orville Wright’s home, Hawthorn Hill, and concluded with a ceremonial fly-past 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 kilometres) per hour, with a maximum range of 100 miles (160.93 kilometres). 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.