Joby Aviation, a California-based company developing electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (eVTOL) for commercial passenger service, announced the acquisition of Avionyx, an aerospace software engineering firm, on the TechCrunch Sessions: Mobility stage on Wednesday.
The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal, but Joby did say that it was an acqui-hire, which means Avionyx’s staff will join Joby. It also likely means that this was a combination equity and stock deal.
Joby’s piloted five-seat eVTOL aircraft can carry four passengers at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, with a maximum range of 150 miles on a single charge, the company said.
Taking on Avionyx, a company with over 30 years in the aerospace environment that has been working with Joby since last year, allows Joby to do what many companies are trying to do: become vertically integrated.
Software verification is critical to meeting FAA regulations and standards because it allows engineers to review, analyze and test the software deployed across the aircraft, according to Joby. It also ostensibly helps to avoid vehicle crashes, like the one currently being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board based on a Joby aircraft crash in February.
By not relying on third parties, Joby also can be more flexible in managing its platform, responding to challenges nimbly and applying learnings more quickly, according to the company.
Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk Aero, another eVTOL company that’s focusing on autonomous air operations, disagreed with Simi onstage at TC Sessions: Mobility about the benefits of vertical integration, saying that not owning all of the components will actually give Wisk a faster path to market, so it looks like the game is afoot. However, because Wisk isn’t aiming for piloted rides, Gysin did concede that Joby’s aircraft will likely hit the skies before Wisk’s. Joby is targeting aerial ridesharing service in 2024.
Avionyx’s experience in the sector will be able to help Joby advance operations at its Vehicle Software Integration Lab in Marina, California, where Joby uses flight and hardware simulators to rapidly conduct thousands of pre-programmed tests to validate and verify the performance of its different aircraft software systems. The company said a similar facility will be set up in San Jose, Costa Rica, where Avionyx hails from, to accelerate those software verification efforts.
In addition to supporting Joby’s FAA certification program, Avionyx, an AS-9100D-certified supplier, will continue its work in support of the broader aviation community.