NASA and air taxi developer Joby Aviation have completed a series of simulations designed to evaluate how electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft integrate into busy airspace. 

The trials simulated up to 120 air taxi arrivals and departures per hour alongside existing commercial airline traffic at Dallas-Fort Worth International airport, using existing air traffic control (ATC) procedures, Joby said on 20 December. 

Safe integration into airspace already congested with conventional aircraft traffic is a looming obstacle for the eVTOL sector, which aspires to start flying passengers by the middle of this decade. 

”This is an important step towards the scaled commercialisation of air taxis in the National Airspace System,” says the start-up company based in Santa Cruz, California. 

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Source: Joby Aviation

Joby Aviation has teamed with NASA to simulate eVTOL operations alongide conventional aircraft at busy airports 

Up to 45 eVTOLs were simultaneously aloft at a given time during the simulations. 

”We have now demonstrated in a real-world simulation how air taxi operations can take place in today’s airspace system, alongside active airport traffic, using tools and procedures currently available to air traffic controllers,” says Tom Prevot, air taxi product lead at Joby.

NASA and Joby engineers completed the trials at NASA’s Future Flight Central, a virtual tower facility with a 360-degree view on a real-time airport simulation. 

Observed by representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the simulations saw controllers using existing routes and procedures for low-altitude airspace. 

NASA and Joby are planning on publishing a complete analysis of the simulations early next year.