The fascinating fine print behind Delta’s bet on Joby

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For nearly two years, Delta Air Lines has been missing from the urban air mobility bandwagon, with Chief Executive Ed Bastian tell investors only that the company was “studying the space” as competitors United Airlines and American Airlines lined up their own deals with developers of electric vertical take-off and landing planes.

Today, Delta is making a big commitment by announcing a $60 million investment in eVTOL developer Joby Aviation and plans to develop premium home-to-airport service using Joby’s electric air taxis.

Related: Airlines lend brands for cheap eVTOL stock

In an industry that’s still two or more years away from commercial service, Delta’s late arrival isn’t a major handicap. Indeed, a close look at filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission suggests that Delta likely edged out United and American in the UAM race, establishing a substantive deal with a pioneering eVTOL developer that has a head start. impressive on certification.

Yet with this meaningful commitment to the UAM sector also comes an increased awareness of its risks. The airline’s agreement with Joby implicitly recognizes that eVTOL aircraft could be difficult to certify and expensive to insure – and that any serious accident could destroy public confidence in them.

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