Joby Aviation
Joby Aviation’s eVTOL aircraft displayed at the World Governments Summit in Dubai on February 12, 2024. Joby and Dubai’s RTA signed a deal that allows the US company to operate air taxi services in the emirate for six years from 2026. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Joby Aviation, a company developing all-electric aircraft for commercial passenger service, signed a multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with three Abu Dhabi government departments to lay the groundwork for Joby to establish and scale air taxi services in Abu Dhabi, and beyond.

The deal,  signed at the DRIFTx international thought-leadership and exhibition platform in Abu Dhabi, was inked with the Department of Municipalities and Transport - Abu Dhabi (DMT), the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED), and the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).

"The MoU demonstrates the breadth of support available to Joby as part of their participation in the Smart and Autonomous Vehicles Industry (SAVI) cluster and builds on Joby’s existing commitments to the UAE, which include the exclusive right to operate air taxi services in Dubai, which the company expects to start as early as next year. The agreement also unlocks the potential for inter-emirate air taxi services, for example between Abu Dhabi and Dubai," the company said in a statement.

Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of DMT, commented on the agreement, saying: "Through the Emirate’s SAVI cluster and this partnership with Joby, we are not only laying the foundation for cutting-edge air taxi services but also shaping the future of transportation.. We look forward to seeing their innovative aircraft take off from the UAE capital, offering the world a glimpse, through Abu Dhabi, of what the future of mobility looks like.”

Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of ADDED, said: “Smart and autonomous vehicles in particular are experiencing rapid growth, buoyed by the launch of the SAVI cluster, which leverages Abu Dhabi’s world-class infrastructure to scale the operations of global companies. Joby’s expansion into Abu Dhabi is a testament to the success of this strategy.”

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “The introduction of scale air taxi services marks a significant addition, enhancing accessibility to natural attractions, tourist hotspots, and architectural landmarks, thereby elevating overall visitor experiences.”

JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO, Joby Aviation, said: “We’re looking forward to delivering a fantastic experience for our future customers in Abu Dhabi and we’re excited to be unlocking the potential for zero-emissions flight between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.”

Joby’s aircraft, which is on display for the first time in Abu Dhabi at the DRIFTx event in Yas Marina, is designed to carry a pilot and four passengers at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour (321 km/h) with zero operating emissions and a remarkably low acoustic footprint. Its maximum range of 100 miles (161 km) would enable fast and clean air travel both within Abu Dhabi and across the wider UAE, with a journey from Abu Dhabi to Dubai taking around 30 minutes compared with around two hours by car during rush hour.

Joby has been working closely with the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the UAE, whose regulatory framework builds upon FAA standards with additional company testing and analysis alongside a high level of regulator oversight and an ongoing review process to ensure safety for early operations. Inter-emirate travel would require additional approval from the GCAA.

In November 2023, Joby’s aircraft became the first electric air taxi to fly in New York City, building on the launch of production at the company’s initial manufacturing facility in California in June 2023 and the first ever delivery of an electric air taxi to the US Department of Defense in September 2023.

In February 2024, Joby confirmed it had completed the third of five stages required to receive type certification for its aircraft from the US Federal Aviation Administration. Joby is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and has raised more than $2 billion of funding to date, including investments from Toyota, Delta Air Lines, SK Telecom, Uber and Baillie Gifford.