Electric aircraft company Wisk hopes to start the first trials carrying passengers in its VTOL in New Zealand as it signed a letter of intent with the government. The company is now pushing ahead with its production and commercialisation plans together with Boeing.
Wisk is an off-shoot of Kitty Hawk funded by Google co-founder Larry Page and introduced an electric autonomous air taxi called Cora two years ago. Kitty Hawk and Boeing founded the joint venture Wisk at the end of last year, which is now continuing the development of the electric air taxi begun by Kitty Hawk.
Although Wisk is still only a few months old, they have just scored a coup in the road to commercial autonomous electric flights: the company now has a letter of intent signed with the New Zealand government. In it, both sides have agreed to test flights with passengers onboard the electric air taxi in the Canterbury region. However, the contracting parties have not yet given a timetable. The VTOL model had already been tested in this region of the Antipodean country in 2017. As reported, the air taxi developers aim to establish a commercial air service, starting in New Zealand.
The Cora air taxi presented two years ago is a vertical take-off two-seater with twelve electric motors. The aircraft should be able to fly up to 100 kilometres at a top speed of 177 km/h. In the future, the small electric aircraft will serve the purpose of transporting two people from A to B via on-demand service. For this purpose, Wisk relies on autonomous flight systems.
New Zealand is particularly suitable as a test area because the government of the island state adopted a unique programme for test flights of innovative aircraft models in October 2019 called the Airspace Integration Trial programme. In this way, the country wants to collaborate with industrial partners from the innovation sector. Wisk is the first company to receive the green light for test flights under the new programme. Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk, says he sees the agreement as “a sign of confidence in our product and capabilities”.
With the agreement now in place, the planning for a passenger transport trial in Canterbury is now underway. The passenger route is a world’s first and will commence after Cora’s certification by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.
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