Rolls-Royce Begins Build of World’s Largest Aero-Engine

Rolls-Royce has officially started building the world’s largest aero-engine, UltraFan. Work on the first module is underway at the company’s dedicated DemoWorks facility in Derby, UK, and the demonstrator engine, which has a fan diameter of 140 inches, will be completed by the end of the year.

The engine is the basis for a potential new family of UltraFan engines able to power both narrowbody and widebody aircraft and deliver a 25% fuel efficiency improvement compared with the first generation of Trent engine.

That performance improvement is crucial to achieving aviation sustainability. Gas turbines will continue to be the bedrock of long-haul aviation for many years, and UltraFan’s efficiency will help improve the economics of an industry transition to more sustainable fuels, which are likely to be more expensive in the short-term than traditional jet fuel. The first test run of the engine will be conducted on 100% sustainable aviation fuel.

Significant investment has been made to develop the UltraFan demonstrator and associated technologies by Rolls-Royce and a variety of funding agencies, including the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK (United Kingdom), LuFo (Germany) and Clean Sky Joint Undertaking (European Union).

“The UltraFan project is a perfect example of how we are working with industry to deliver green, sustainable flight for decades to come,” UK Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said. “Backed with significant government support, this project represents the scale of ambition for Britain’s crucial aerospace sector. Companies like Rolls-Royce are playing a critical role as we build back greener from the pandemic and we are committed to giving the whole aerospace sector the support it needs to innovate and reach new heights.”

Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce, President – Civil Aerospace, said: “This is an exciting moment for all of us at Rolls-Royce. Our first engine demonstrator, UF001, is now coming together and I’m really looking forward to seeing it built and ready for test. It is arriving at a time when the world is seeking ever more sustainable ways to travel in a post-COVID 19 world, and it makes me and all our team very proud to know we are part of the solution.

“I am delighted that the UK and German governments have supported us in making these significant ground-breaking technology investments. The Aerospace Technology Institute and LuFo programmes, as well as the EU’s Clean Sky, have all helped bring us a step closer to realising the enormous environmental and economic benefits of UltraFan.”

As engine build starts, other key parts are already coming together for delivery to Derby. Work is underway on UltraFan’s carbon titanium fan system in Bristol, UK, and its 50MW Power Gearbox, which is powerful enough to run 500 family cars, in Dahlewitz, Germany.

UltraFan is part of Rolls-Royce’s IntelligentEngine vision – for example each fan blade has a digital twin which stores real-life test data, allowing engineers to predict in-service performance. When on test at Rolls-Royce’s new £90m Testbed 80 facility, data can be taken from more than 10,000 parameters, detecting the tiniest of vibrations at a rate of up to 200,000 samples per second. Data that helps us understand our engines and further improve them.

Key engineering features of the engine include:

  • A new, proven, Advance 3 core architecture, combined with our ALECSys lean burn combustion system, to deliver maximum fuel burn efficiency and low emissions.
  • Carbon titanium fan blades and a composite casing that reduce weight by up to 1,500lb per aircraft.
  • Advanced ceramic matrix composite (CMC) components that operate more effectively in high pressure turbine temperatures.
  • A geared design that delivers efficient power for the high-thrust, high bypass ratio engines of the future.

Sagetech, NASA, and AATI Partner on Detect and Avoid System Demo

Sagetech Avionics, an aerospace technology company providing industry-leading situational awareness solutions for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and American Aerospace ISR (AA ISR) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to integrate Sagetech’s Detect and Avoid (DAA) system into the AA ISR AiRanger unmanned aircraft.

The companies expect to have a certifiable prototype of the system ready for flight testing by the end of the year.

“Detect and Avoid systems are critical for beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) flight and critical to the mission of the long endurance AiRanger aircraft,” said Tom Furey, CEO of Sagetech Avionics. “We are pleased to partner with the innovative AA ISR group to bring the world’s first certifiable low-SWaP DAA solution to test flights.”

“American Aerospace ISR is pleased to partner with Sagetech for the integration of a certifiable DAA solution on our aircraft,” said Ali Etebari, General Manager of AA ISR. “We anticipate that this Detect and Avoid system will help facilitate Type Certification of our aircraft and enable our customers to fly commercial BVLOS missions safely in the National Airspace.”

Sagetech’s DAA system packages multiple core technologies into a single, low size, weight, and power (SWaP) DAA solution suitable for use on commercial unmanned aircraft as well as urban air mobility (UAM) platforms. Sagetech’s DAA system is ACAS-based, featuring technologies including a transponder, an interrogator, an ACAS-based DAA computer, software package, and other essential components. It is compatible with many off-the-shelf low SWaP radar and other traffic sensors.

The AiRanger is a fixed-wing unmanned aircraft with an endurance of over 17 hours (with payload). Powered by a fuel-injected gasoline engine, the AiRanger is designed for commercialized airborne applications in austere environments at large scale. Designed to be payload-capable, the fuselage can be configured to carry multiple airborne payloads including remote sensing, communication network, and emergency response systems. AA ISR will integrate Sagetech’s DAA solution as part of the AiRanger Type Certification with the FAA.

Wisk Prepares to Launch Trial to Advance Autonomous Passenger Transport

In February 2020, Wisk announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the New Zealand Government to establish the Transport Trial under the broader AITP. Since then, both parties have been undertaking detailed planning of a highly structured and integrated program, with implementation of the trial expected to start in the second half of 2021. 

Wisk is also bringing Insitu Pacific, a Boeing subsidiary and industry-leading unmanned aerial system (UAS) company, into the program to support the trial. Through this partnership, Wisk says it will combine its leadership of autonomous flight operations and the advanced technology and expertise of Boeing to deliver on the passenger trial objective: to safely evaluate, test, and demonstrate the integration of unmanned aircraft into existing airspace.

Wisk brings over a decade of autonomous eVTOL expertise to the trial, including knowledge from approximately 1500 test flights and the backing of Boeing’s expertise in integrating piloted and autonomous technology. Built on the core values of safety and collaboration, the Transport Trial will address the challenges of airspace integration and help realize the significant opportunities of urban air mobility across a range of industries and applications.

“Wisk has always seen the distinct advantages of New Zealand, including the country’s globally respected Civil Aviation Authority and flexibility for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS),” said Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk. “These factors, combined with the advantages of testing and operating in a relatively uncongested airspace and the innovative culture of early adoption, makes New Zealand uniquely positioned as a leader for autonomous UAM integration trials.”

“New Zealand presents a unique opportunity and we are immensely proud to have been recognized by the New Zealand Government as the first airspace integration industry partner,” added Anna Kominik, Asia Pacific Region Director for Wisk. “New Zealand’s focus on decarbonizing its economy as part of the electric transport evolution directly aligns with Wisk’s mission to deliver safe, everyday flight for everyone through effective, accessible and sustainable urban air mobility solutions.”

Wisk says they believe autonomy, electric aviation and urban air mobility are set to redefine transportation and this trial will help lay the foundations for the future of transport.  

Martin UAV Unveils V-BAT 128, Featuring Increased Payload, Endurance for Defense and Private-Sector Application

Martin UAV announced the public release of the latest unmanned aircraft system (UAS), the V-BAT 128, for defense and commercial use, including search and rescue, firefighting, logistic resupply, and energy and oil and gas operations. 

Martin UAV previously demonstrated its upgraded version of the V-BAT featuring an increase in power, payloads and endurance at the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE). Over the course of several weeks, the V-BAT 128 flew numerous missions, demonstrating its VTOL capabilities and the versatility of its small footprint; one of the features is the aircraft’s ability to transition from take-off to a vertical hover and persistent stare capability while maintaining a sensor line of sight, in spite of difficult terrain.

“Martin UAV continues to push the boundaries of what is possible for unmanned aircraft systems,” said Heath Niemi, chief development officer. “We have listened to the customer and expanded the capabilities and agility of the V-BAT 128, delivering technology that serves a wider range of mission needs. We’re proud to make the V-BAT 128 available to the broader market and to provide more power and payload that can be transported in the bed of a pick-up truck, or, inside a Black Hawk.”

As the interest and adoption of UAV/UAS increases across commercial industries, the company stated a renewed commitment to support these verticals adapting to new technologies. Most recently, the company announced the addition of industry veteran Bill Irby as the chief operating officer, who previously held leadership roles with Textron, L3 Harris and Northrop Grumman. Martin UAV says it is striving “to make UAVs more accessible and easier to implement, empowering organizations to streamline operational efficiencies, security and increase the safety measures for its staff.”

The V-BAT 128 is designed to make transportation and rapid tactical deployment easier for both defense and commercial applications. It can be assembled by two personnel in less than 30 minutes. The aircraft’s duct fan propulsion design provides for top operational safety by eliminating exposed rotors, which are commonly found in propeller-driven VTOLs.

The company says V-BAT 128 is suitable for takeoff and landing on both stationary and moving platforms, in areas with a footprint of less than 12-feet by 12-feet. The upgraded V-BAT provides significantly enhanced payload capacity of 25 pound and interchangeable payloads to meet mission-specific requirements. Increased endurance of up to 11 hours, and higher thrust were made possible by leveraging a more powerful engine, the Suter TOA 288 model. With a wingspan of 9.7 feet, the V-BAT 128 can reach over 90 knots reaching altitudes of 20,000 feet. 

Frequentis Digital Cloud Services: Paving the Way for Estonian U-Space

Estonian Air Navigation Services (EANS) has been working with Frequentis to create an environment where drones and civil aviation can coexist in the shared airspace. By integrating air traffic management (ATM) and unmanned traffic management (UTM) on the same platform, situational awareness and safety will be enhanced, allowing increased use of drones in Estonia. The project will accelerate the roll out of Estonian U-space (unmanned airspace) and allow drones to serve critical industry.

The project delivers a pre-operational system, hosted in the Frequentis cloud environment, to allow use cases and business cases to be defined, verified, and trialed. The flexibility of the system, and the experience Frequentis gained from previous projects, allowed the system to be adapted to the needs of EANS. This has allowed EANS to take a leading role in creating the Estonian drone ecosystem and a step closer to their U-space roadmap for Estonian airspace.

“The usage of drone-based services is increasing constantly and drone traffic volume in urban air space is one of the biggest challenges we have to face. To cope with future demand and to continue providing safe airspace operations, we must ensure that all airspace users are aware of each other. It is crucial to have an efficient unmanned traffic management (UTM) system in place that also interacts with manned aircraft operations,” said Jaanus Jakimenko, head of CNS Department and Member of the EANS Management Board. “EANS worked with Frequentis on the SESAR Gulf of Finland (GOF) U-space trials in 2019. This experience gave us the knowledge and ability to quickly support the use of drones for emergency services during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns. It has also given us the needed assurance of Frequentis technological capabilities and knowledge of their experienced team. We are looking forward to enhancing our airspace operations in line with the growth of drone usage.”

The 2019GOF project focused on ATM/UTM integration testing the U-space concept of operations in seven advanced drone trials. During the 2020 COVD-19 lockdown the Frequentis flight information management system (FIMS) was reactivated and, as a result, enabled EANS to support Estonian emergency services with series of essential drone operations. The cloud-based system is provided as managed service in the Frequentis cloud environment, allowing validation of use cases and business cases as well as UTM/UAS trials. Furthermore, the cloud architecture enables a fully optimised deployment process, without the need for on-site activities. This ensured project success despite the challenges of COVID-19. The current solution will enable EANS to move forward with realising Estonian U-space concept of operations and started implementing technological solution to provide drones safe and secure access to the airspace. 

The current cooperation will validate the pre-operational system for EANS for monitoring and authorizing unmanned flights and create preliminary capabilities for common information sharing as outlined in the new U-space regulatory framework. The validation of the pre-operational solution will enable EANS to decide on how to best proceed with deploying U-space in the upcoming years and support the growing unmanned ecosystem.

“The FIMS provides Common Information Services (CIS) and U-space services ensuring a single source of truth where necessary, a foundation for U-space, which allows real-time situational awareness for air traffic controllers, drone operators and service providers, enabling both manned flights and drones to safely share the same airspace,” says Guenter Graf, vice president Frequentis New Business Development “The Frequentis platform allows drone operators to see airspace restrictions and flight rules, file flight plans, and receive updates from Air Traffic Controllers in real time, supporting ANSPs with their goals for increased drone services to support their future tech economy.”

AeroVironment Awarded $21 Million Contract Option for Raven Radio Frequency Modifications Under Existing U.S. Army FCS Contract

AeroVironment, Inc., a global leader in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), announced the United States Army exercised the second of three options under the sole source Flight Control Systems (FCS) domain of the Army’s multi-year small UAS contract on February 25, 2021. The value of the contract option is $20,979,905 and includes avionics and data link upgrade packages to modify radio frequencies employed by the Army’s existing fleet of Raven tactical UAS. The period of Performance ends June 30, 2022.

The contract option was exercised under the Army’s FCS domain awarded to AeroVironment in June 2019 with an initial base delivery order of $862,488. FCS is the first of six domains comprising the Army’s existing five-year Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) SUAS contract and has a potential value of up to $55 million. The Army’s first option under the existing contract – valued at $21,058,643 – was exercised in April 2020, bringing the total value to date to $42,901,035.

“The U.S. Army possesses the largest fleet of Raven small unmanned aircraft systems in the world. For more than a decade, Raven systems have provided frontline Soldiers with increased mission effectiveness, safety and situational awareness so they can proceed with certainty,” said Trace Stevenson, vice president and product line general manager of small UAS.

The Raven system is designed for rapid deployment and high mobility for operations requiring low-altitude Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). With a wingspan of 4.5 feet and weighing just 4.2 pounds (1.9 kilograms), the hand-launched Raven provides situational awareness, day or night, with an operational range of 6.2 miles (10 kilometers). The Raven’s Mantis i23 EO/IR gimbaled payload delivers real-time video or infrared imagery to ground control and remote viewing stations.

AeroVironment’s family of tactical UAS comprises the majority of all unmanned aircraft in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) inventory, and its rapidly growing international customer base numbers more than 50 allied governments.

NUAIR Lays Automation Groundwork for High-Density Vertiports

On March 5, NUAIR held an all-day virtual conference for more than 70 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and industry professionals to further develop a strategic plan that supports NASA’s advanced air mobility (AAM) efforts. NASA awarded Oneida County this critical contract in August 2020 to conduct research in automation technology to support high-density vertiport operations that facilitate the vertical takeoff and landing of large-scale unmanned aircraft across populated areas.

NUAIR manages the $897,000 task order for AAM and vertiport development on behalf of the New York UAS Test Site at Griffiss International Airport. The project team includes Deloitte, Boeing, Crown Consulting, Mosaic ATM, 5-Alpha LLC, Helicopter Association International (HAI) and the General Aircraft Manufacturers Association (GAMA). After eight months of meaningful work, the team opened the floor to their industry colleagues to discuss and gather feedback on the three reports of the project: a trade study, the concept of operations (ConOps), and the software architecture requirements for vertiport automation.

“Oneida County’s long-standing partnership with NASA has proven to be a productive one,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “Together, we have conducted crucial research that has led to transformative advancements in the UAS industry. I look forward to the impact this new collaboration will have on the future of this emerging technology.”

A vertiport is a collective term referring to areas designed specifically for AAM aircraft to take off and land, much like a heliport is a designated area for helicopters. Dr. Marcus Johnson, high-density vertiplex subproject manager, NASA, opened the event by discussing NASA’s overall vertiport research plans, which all stem from the groundwork being developed in this initial project. Robert Bassey of the FAA gave an update on vertiport standards development and research, outlining multiple operational requirements for vertiport facilities including layout designs, electrical needs, and safety requirements. The FAA and NASA meet regularly with the AAM industry for open collaboration in building the future of public air transportation.

Vertiport Design Concepts

Michael Patterson, systems analysis and AAM ConOps lead, NASA, reported on the current maturity level of AAM and gave an in-depth vision of what is needed and what it might look like to advance into the “intermediate” maturity level. This level would consist of complex operations and automated systems, consisting of hundreds of simultaneous flights. Individual aircraft may have the option of being flown by an onboard pilot, flown using simplified vehicle operations or by someone at a “command station” who may be piloting or monitoring multiple aircraft at once.

Project partners Crown Consulting and Mosaic ATM outlined what these “skyways” and vertiport structures might look like, how they would integrate with current airspace regulations and the communication systems needed for safe flight. Air traffic will be a mix of piloted, semi-automated, and fully automated aircraft with multiple vertiport configurations depending on the location and type of operation. Vertiports could be built on top of buildings, be a stand-alone hub with amenities like an airport, or be a simple “vertistop”, intended solely for pick-ups and drop-offs.

After hearing the project group’s concept of AAM and vertiport operations, participants were then divvied up into moderated breakout rooms to discuss the three phases of AAM operations: pre-flight and planning, departure and en route, and landing and surface. Overall, participants felt the concept of vertiport operations “made sense” and the elements outlined within the document was “mostly complete.”

“We had a great turnout, with solid support from NASA and the FAA. The interaction and back-and-forth between speakers and participants was amazing,” said Jonathan Daniels, NUAIR’s chief of strategy, Vertiport Project Lead and event host. “It’s always important to break out of your perceptual bubble and get some outside feedback from the industry stakeholders that will be a part of this new innovative system.”

Contributing partners on this project include: 5-Alpha, LLC, Boeing, Crown Consulting, Deloitte, General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Helicopter Association International (HAI), Mosaic ATM, Inc., NUAIR, and Oneida County (New York UAS Test Site). The project team will utilize the participants’ feedback to continue laying the groundwork for the future of advanced air mobility.

Aviation Companies Launch First In-Flight 100% Sustainable-Fuel Emissions Study on Commercial Jet

A team of aerospace specialists has launched the world’s first in-flight emissions study using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on a wide-body commercial passenger aircraft.

Airbus, German research center DLR, Rolls-Royce and SAF producer Neste have teamed up to start the pioneering “Emission and Climate Impact of Alternative Fuels” project looking into the effects of 100% SAF on aircraft emissions and performance.

Findings from the study – to be carried out on the ground and in the air using an Airbus A350-900 aircraft powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines – will support efforts currently underway at Airbus and Rolls-Royce to ensure the aviation sector is ready for the large-scale use of SAF as part of the wider initiative to decarbonise the industry.

Fuel-clearance engine tests, including a first flight to check operational compatibility with the aircraft’s systems, started at Airbus’ facilities in Toulouse, France, this week. These will be followed by the groundbreaking flight-emissions tests due in April and resuming in Q4 2021, using DLR’s Falcon 20-E ‘chase plane’ to carry out measurements to investigate the impact of sustainable-fuel emissions. Meanwhile, further ground tests measuring particulate-matter emissions are set to indicate the environmental impact of SAF-use on airport operations.

Both the flight and the ground tests will compare emissions from 100% SAF made from HEFA (hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) against those produced by fossil kerosene and low-sulphur fossil kerosene.

The SAF will be provided by Finnish oil-refining company Neste, a leading worldwide supplier of sustainable fuel. Additional measurement and analysis for the characterisation of the particulate-matter emissions during the ground testing will be delivered by the UK’s University of Manchester and the National Research Council of Canada.

“SAF is an important part of Airbus’ ambition to decarbonise the aviation industry, ensuring a sustainable future for air travel,” said Steven Le Moing, New Energy Programme Manager, Airbus. “It is a ready-to-use solution for current fleets and remains the most viable, long-term solution for long-haul flights where other technologies, such as hybrid-electric and hydrogen, are further from maturity.

“SAF is currently only permitted at up to a 50% volume blend with fossil kerosene but this exciting collaboration between industry, academia and government will provide us with a unique insight into how gas-turbine engines function using 100% SAF. The identification of the potential for emissions reductions, and the environmental impact of using such fuels in flight, will further lay the groundwork for its future certification.”

Dr Patrick Le Clercq, Project Manager at DLR, said: “By investigating 100% SAF, we are taking our research on fuel design and aviation climate impact to a new level. In previous research campaigns, we were already able to demonstrate the soot-reduction potential of between 30 and 50 percent blends of alternative fuels, and we hope this new campaign will show that this potential is now even greater.

“DLR has already conducted extensive research on analytics and modelling as well as performing ground and flight tests using alternative fuels with the Airbus A320 ATRA research aircraft in 2015 and in 2018 together with NASA.”

Simon Burr, Director Product Development and Technology, Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace, added: “In our post-COVID-19 world, people will want to connect again but do so sustainably. For long-distance travel, we know this will involve the use of gas turbines for decades to come. SAF is essential to the decarbonisation of that travel and we actively support the ramp-up of its availability to the aviation industry. This research is essential to support our commitment to understanding and enabling the use of 100% SAF as a low-emissions solution.”

Jonathan Wood, Vice President Renewable Aviation at Neste, said: “We’re delighted to contribute to this project to measure the extensive benefits of SAF compared with fossil jet fuel and provide the data to support the use of SAF at higher concentrations than 50%. Independently verified analysis shows 100% Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel delivers up to 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil jet fuel use when all life-cycle emissions are taken into account; this study will clarify the additional benefits from the use of SAF.”

FAA, Choctaw Nation Team Up to Advance UAS

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is partnering with the Choctaw Nation to study how Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) can best transport cargo, including parcels, at lower altitudes.

The FAA’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center (MMAC), signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

The agreement will enable the MMAC to work with the Choctaw Nation to study human factors, supply chain management and air traffic control. The parties will use virtual simulated urban environments for their research. One goal of the MOU is to promote interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs for students seeking possible careers in aerospace.

“The FAA and the Choctaw Nation share an interest in safety,” said Michelle Coppedge, Director of the MMAC. “Our goal is to advance the development and integration of UAS into what is already a complex National Airspace System.”

”The MMAC plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of aviation operations in our nation, and we are excited to establish formal ties between our organizations to jointly support the development and safe integration of emerging aviation technologies into our national airspace system,” said James L Grimsley, Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

The Choctaw Nation is the only tribal government selected by the U. S. Department of Transportation to participate in the Unmanned Aerial System Integration Pilot Program. It was one of nine active pilot sites in the United States selected to work in collaboration with the FAA and industry to conduct advanced UAS operations

The Nation also was the first tribal government to be recognized by the FAA as a Public Aircraft Operator. It was the only lead participant to work with the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center on acoustics testing for UAS used in agriculture, remote infrastructure inspections, public safety and other areas.

More than 6,300 employees, contractors and students work at the FAA’s aeronautical center, which is located on the west side of Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City. The center touches every aspect of the nation’s airspace by providing training, supply chain management, medical/educational human factors research and the national registration database of all U.S.-registered aircraft and pilots. It also offers financial management and acquisition services for a wide array of federal agencies.

Former FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell Joins Joby Advisory Board

Joby Aviation, a transportation company developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) that it intends to operate as a commercial passenger aircraft beginning in 2024, has announced the appointment of Dan Elwell as an advisor.

Elwell served as deputy and acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from June 2017 to November 2020, responsible for the safety and efficiency of the world’s single largest aerospace system, and had oversight of the FAA’s multibillion-dollar NextGen air traffic control modernization program. He previously served as senior advisor on aviation to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and as the FAA’s assistant administrator for Policy, Planning and Environment. Elwell’s government service followed a long and successful career as a military and commercial pilot.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Dan to our Advisory Board at this exciting time for Joby Aviation,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation. “Dan brings a rare combination of in-the-air, public policy and corporate expertise, gained over decades of working in both the government and private sector. His unique perspective, and the insight he can offer around aircraft certification and airline operations, will be invaluable to Joby as we move towards introducing our service in 2024.”

Commenting on his appointment, Elwell added: “JoeBen’s vision of saving a billion people an hour a day is going to change how we look at air travel. I’m excited to join such a dedicated and passionate team of aviators.”

Elwell was a commercial pilot for 16 years with American Airlines and also served as Managing Director for International and Government Affairs at American Airlines. He earned his pilot wings at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in International Affairs.  While in the military, Elwell logged more than 6,000 hours of combined civilian and military flight time in the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Air Force Reserve, including combat service during Operation Desert Storm. He currently serves on several private and public boards, including Alaska Air Group.

Elwell joins the Advisory Board as Joby prepares to merge with Reinvent Technology Partners, a special purpose acquisition company. Upon the closing of the transaction, the combined company will be named Joby Aviation, and become publicly traded, with its common stock expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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