Kitty Hawk subsidiary Zephyr Airworks has signed a cooperation agreement with Air New Zealand as both partners want to work on setting up an air taxi service with self-flying electric aircrafts. We remember: About half a year ago, Kitty Hawk unveiled its electrically powered autonomous air taxi Cora.
Kitty Hawk, formerly known as Zee-Aero, co-founded by Larry Page and financed by Google, had already back then announced the plan to launch a commercial flight service in New Zealand. The agreement between the national airline and Zephyr Airworks, operator of Cora in New Zealand, is a step forward to this objective. The company adds that the air taxi meanwhile achieved 700 flight tests globally and a hanger has been recently opened in New Zealand.
Cora is a VTOL with two seats and twelve electric motors. It flies with a top speed of 177 kph up to a range of 100 km. Director of the development programme is Sebastian Thrun, who was also involved in Googles robot car project. In spring, Cora got the backing of New Zealand’s new prime minister. Thus, the country is willing to get into an official certification process. This step is crucial for a technology that is otherwise doomed to be grounded by regulators. A commercial service could be kicked off in about three years.
engadget.com, cora.aero, airnewzealand.co.nz