The US Air Force has received its first electric passenger aircraft capable of taking off and landing vertically, a milestone for the companies that hope to one day sell thousands of such vehicles to serve as air taxis, Report informs referring to The New York Times.
Joby Aviation, an air taxi start-up, delivered the aircraft to Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, where the first supersonic flight took place. Air taxis are typically powered by batteries and designed to lift off and land like helicopters, but include wings to fly like airplanes.
Joby, which is based in Santa Cruz, Calif., said that its electric aircraft is substantially quieter than helicopters or planes. Each can carry one pilot and four passengers and travel as fast as 200 miles per hour and as far as 100 miles, according to the company.
The delivery is the first under an Air Force contract that Joby said was valued at up to $131 million and gives the government the option to receive up to nine aircraft. The Air Force and Joby will operate the vehicle, but Joby will still own the aircraft and receive both fixed and variable payments for hours flown. NASA, which has a facility at the base, will also conduct research on the vehicle.
The Air Force has signed similar contracts with other air taxi companies under a program called Agility Prime, part of a broader effort to promote innovation. Agility Prime’s mission is to support development of air taxis and similar technology, giving the Air Force a head start in exploring how it might use such aircraft while also providing financial and testing support to the air taxi companies.