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Just weeks after its first manned flight in the California desert, Joby Aviation has taken its S4 eVTOL air taxi out for a piloted demo flight in the Big Apple, demonstrating just how much quieter and less disruptive it'll be than a helicopter.

On Sunday, NYC Mayor Eric Adams put on a press conference at the Downtown Heliport, which pokes out into the East River just a couple of blocks from Wall Street. The occasion, Adams announced, was that the city was planning to electrify the heliport in support of the coming wave of electric air taxis, as well as to enable the charging of ebikes for last-mile deliveries.

eVTOL aircraft promise to start a sustainable, traffic-busting clean urban transport revolution, offering quick and convenient flights over congested areas at a fraction of the cost– and the noise pollution – of a helicopter.

To hammer home the point, Joby had its S4 take off and fly a few fairly tight circles – as NASA confirmed in 2022, an S4 cruising at an altitude of 500 m (1,640 ft) creates a noise level on the ground somewhere between "refrigerator" and "moderate rainfall" at 45.2 dBA – as compared to the mean street noise level in NYC, which was measured at 73.4 dBA across 99 sites in this 2015 study.

The aircraft stayed in hover mode the entire time – we're yet to see the S4 make a transition to fully wing-supported cruise flight with a pilot on board. But that'll come soon, with FAA certification and entry into service (and serial production) planned for 2025 providing all the dominoes fall as expected.

Annoyingly, Joby's event video covers up the sound of the aircraft with music, so we've uploaded some B-Roll of the event, some of which has audio attached. Suffice to say, it's quiet alright – bystanders near the cameras don't even have to raise their voice to chat.

Source: Joby Aviation