Joby Aviation says FAA gives nod for in-house software for air-taxi operations

FILE PHOTO: The Joby Aviation logo is seen outside of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) ahead of their listing in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 11, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

(Reuters) - Joby Aviation said on Thursday the U.S. aviation regulator has authorized the use of the air-taxi maker's in-house software to perform tasks such as managing pilot workload and matching passengers with aircraft similar to ride-hailing apps.

The nod for the operating system, known as ElevateOS, comes as Joby gears up to launch its commercial air-taxi operations as early as 2025.

The Santa Cruz, California-based company is one of the several makers of air taxi - also known as electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft - that has emerged over the last few years with a promise to decongest urban travel by offering intra-city rides.

Joby has commercial agreements to integrate the software with Uber Technologies and Delta Air Lines that will allow passengers to book and pay for flights, Bonny Simi, Joby's president of operations, told Reuters in an interview.

ElevateOS was authorized for use by the U.S Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as part of its Part 135 Certification, which Joby received in 2022, she said, adding the company has tested the system by ferrying employees between its sites.

The air-taxi maker also plans to make money from selling the software as a service. The company's eVTOL aircraft is designed to carry a pilot and four passengers at speeds of up to 200 mph.

Joby, which went public in 2021 through a SPAC merger, has attracted investments from transport industry heavyweights such as Toyota, Uber and Delta Air.

Several large publicly companies have bet on air taxi makers, but the industry faces technological and regulatory hurdles in beginning operations and achieving profitability.

Those challenges have weighed on the sector's shares. Shares of Joby have fallen 24.8% this year, while peer Archer Aviation is down 50.2%.

(Reporting by Abhijith Ganapavaram in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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