Last year, the electric vertical take-off and landing developer Joby Aviation began reporting its progress toward type certification in the form of a chart showing five stages of certification and the percentage of each it had completed. As the company explained in its second quarter 2022 shareholder letter, its intent was “to provide a useful — and standardized — basis on which to evaluate Joby’s progress.”
The chart was a carefully thought-out attempt to distill a convoluted bureaucratic process into something simple to understand. But that hasn’t stopped people from misunderstanding it anyway.
Joby reported its third-quarter earnings on November 1, and as usual provided an updated chart showing its progress to certification. That was followed by some headlines claiming that Joby was 84% done with certification, which is not accurate — the company actually said that the Federal Aviation Administration had accepted 84% of its certification plans, which it defines as stage 3 of the certification process.
That was a simple mistake, easily corrected. Yet, there appears to be a more fundamental misunderstanding among many investors and analysts that Joby’s five stages of certification are the official methodology of the FAA, which is not exactly the case.
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