Air Taxi Testing — Apparently the FAA learned little from the 737 MAX debacle

In the past I have written on how many VTOL maker’s staff lacks relevant experience, and they use inferior simulation for design and testing of their systems. Now I would like to discuss the major lack of verification due diligence, especially regarding safety. And the FAA enabling this extremely counterproductive and reckless behavior. In a recent LinkedIn posting Joby said this:

With more than 1,000 test flights completed over the last 10 years, Joby Aviation has secured a substantial first-mover advantage in the aerial ridesharing industry. In 2020, the Company became the first to agree to a certification basis for an electric vertical takeoff and landing (“eVTOL”) aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) and in the same year received the U.S. Air Force’s first ever airworthiness approval for an eVTOL aircraft.

I looked in to this a bit. Apparently the “certification” by the FAA and the “airworthiness approval” by the Air Force are reflected in an FAA Part 135 waiver that states Joby was tested against itself. That’s right. They produced the criteria, apparently, they self-certify and that criteria is not public? And the Air Force has no idea what the tests were, how they were run and passed? (Various posts point to the Agility Prime sight for more on that certification. There’s nothing is there.)

Phase 4 — Performance Assessment

In this phase, the certification team determines that the applicant’s proposed procedures and programs for training and directing personnel in the performance of their duties are effective. In this phase, the emphasis is on compliance with regulations and the operating procedures contained in the applicant’s manuals, as applicable.

Additional information on the Performance Assessment phase is located at FAA Order 8900.1 Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 4.

The completion of the Performance Assessment Phase also completes Gate 3 of the certification process.

Yes, I get that they are leveraging processes the FAA uses for commercial aircraft design and manufacture. But those are usually of proven manufacturers, loaded with folks with aircraft making experience, who use proper software for development and testing. All could be well here, and I am making Joby pay for other’s sins. But it seems to me that the FAA is overly trusting here, like they and NHTSA are with autonomous systems development. And there should be far more public disclosure on the verification process, specific testing and how those tests are being run. Particularly given the FAA and NASA have pulled up well short of a responsible system of systems design for UAM/UTM. This industry, like the autonomy sector, are rampant with hype. And the recent 737 MAX disaster.

(As with the major design issues with UAM/ATM as well as the path air and ground autonomous system makers are using to develop these systems, the root cause here is the Silicon Valley Agile Holiday Inn Express Syndrome. More on all of this in my article below.)

More here

Urban Air Mobility — Four Paths to Disaster


Silicon Valley and Agile are Ruining Engineering


FAA making a grave error in granting autonomous drone waivers to develop in the public domain


The Autonomous Vehicle Industry can be Saved by doing the Opposite of what is being done now


Common Misconceptions about Aerospace/DoD/FAA Simulation for Autonomous Vehicles


My name is Michael DeKort — I am a former system engineer, engineering and program manager for Lockheed Martin. I worked in aircraft simulation, the software engineering manager for all of NORAD, the Aegis Weapon System, and on C4ISR for DHS.

Key Autonomous Vehicle Industry Participation

- Founder SAE On-Road Autonomous Driving Simulation Task Force

- Member SAE ORAD Verification and Validation Task Force

- Member SAE G-34 / EUROCAE WG-114 Artificial Intelligence in Aviation

- Stakeholder for UL4600 — Creating AV Safety Guidelines

- Member of the IEEE Artificial Intelligence & Autonomous Systems Policy Committee

- Presented the IEEE Barus Ethics Award for Post 9/11 DoD/DHS Whistleblowing Efforts

Systems Engineer, Engineering/Program Management -- DoD/Aerospace/IT - Autonomous Systems Air & Ground, FAA Simulation, UAM, V2X, C4ISR, Cybersecurity