Saturday, February 19, 2022

Joby Aero JAS4-2, N542AJ: Accident occurred February 16, 2022 in Jolon, Monterey County, California

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Santa Jose, California
Joby Aviation; Santa Cruz, California

Joby Aero Inc

Location: Jolon, California
Accident Number: DCA22FA082
Date and Time: February 16, 2022, 09:58 Local 
Registration: N542AJ
Aircraft: JOBY AERO INC JAS4-2
Injuries: N/A
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Flight test

On February 16, 2022, at 09:58 am pacific standard time (PST), a Joby Aviation JAS4-2 experimental aircraft, N542AJ, experienced a component failure over an uninhabited area near Jolon, California. There were no injuries, and the aircraft was substantially damaged. The aircraft was operating as a developmental flight test under the provisions of 14 CFR part 91, utilizing an experimental category special airworthiness certificate under 14 CFR part 21.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: JOBY AERO INC 
Registration: N542AJ
Model/Series: JAS4-2 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Certificate of authorization or waiver (COA)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: 
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: 
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site: 
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: 
Altimeter Setting: 
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: Jolon, CA
Destination: Jolon, CA 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: N/A 
Latitude, Longitude: 35.9708,-121.176 (est)

Flying-Taxi Startup Joby Slumps After Test-Flight Accident
  • Aircraft was remotely piloted; company says no one was injured
  • NTSB investigating after plane suffered ‘substantial damage’
Joby Aviation Inc., a startup vying to be among the first to fly a new class of electric air taxis, said one of its aircraft was involved in an accident, sending the shares tumbling.

The February 16 incident involved a remotely piloted prototype at the company’s test base in California, according to a regulatory filing. There were no injuries, the company said without detailing the specifics of the accident.

“Experimental flight test programs are intentionally designed to determine the limits of aircraft performance, and accidents are unfortunately a possibility,” Joby said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident, which resulted in “substantial damage” to the aircraft, spokesman Peter Knudson said. The NTSB’s authority to investigate all aviation accidents includes most serious drone crashes.

Joby said in the filing that it’s supporting authorities in an investigation.

Joby is one of several startups building electric aircraft that take off vertically like helicopters and then fly like small planes once in the air. Joby is seeking regulatory authorization to fly with an onboard pilot its five-seat air taxi, which has a maximum range of 150 miles (241 kilometers) and a top speed of 200 mph (322 kph).

The accident could complicate Joby’s effort to win approval for the ground-breaking plane, which has already made more than 1,000 successful flights. The startup has said it expects to receive authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration and fly its aircraft commercially by 2024.

The flight test involving the accident was not for FAA credit, Morgan Stanley analyst Kristine Liwag wrote in a research note. The company has a second aircraft with which it will likely continue test flights.

Door Still Open

“In our view, the accident with the Joby aircraft does not close the door on FAA certification,” Liwag said. “However, the cause of the accident must be understood.”

Aerospace is a “difficult technical industry,” Liwag said. The analyst highlighted that General Dynamics Corp.’s Gulfstream unit suffered an accident in 2011 during test flights of its G650 jet. That plane went on to be one of private aviation’s most successful and profitable aircraft. The Gulfstream crash killed four employees.

“This execution risk highlights why we have such a wide range of outcomes for Joby considering the nascency of the industry,” said Liwag, who rates the stock the equivalent of a buy. 


  1. Will be interesting to learn whether the crash was during wing-borne horizontal phase of flight or the transition phase. NASA and the FAA have been doing workshops on eVTOL crashworthiness and observations of how this prototype fared will add knowledge to that effort.

    A 2021 eVTOL Crashworthiness presentation linked below addresses considerations inherent in lift + cruise designs.

    Slide 5 highlights crash exposure risk during transition phase where the absence of kinetic energy in the vehicle system to operate a safe emergency landing combines with being below the minimum altitude at which a ballistic recovery system can provide protection.

    It's good to see publicly accessible information on crash safety evaluation that acknowledges the challenge faced by designers in protecting passengers and people on the ground.

    1. My comment is more of a question. Is JOBY eVTOL required to pass a bird impact test to the propellers? Is so, what is the success criteria?

  2. Preliminary report is very brief, states that the aircraft experienced a component failure.