Sunday December 04, 2022

Boeing invests more in electric air taxi project that it co-develops with Kitty Hawk

Wisk Aero, an electric air taxi startup, has raised $450 million from Boeing in its latest funding round. It claims it will be “one of the most well funded [advanced aviation mobility] companies in the globe.” Wisk Aero’s announcement highlights that it is a privately-backed AAM leader, setting itself apart from a number of similar startups that have gone public recently by merging with special purpose acquisition corporations, also known as SPACs, or “blank checks” companies. Wisk Aero was founded in 2019 by Boeing and Kitty Hawk, a flying taxi company that Larry Page, Google co-founder, funded.
Wisk claims it will use the funds to undergo a period of rapid expansion, adding new workers to its existing workforce of 350 people, and to kick off a manufacturing process that it believes will lead to a fully-scaled, commercially viable air taxi business in the next five years. The company expects to fly 14 million flights annually in approximately 20 major markets around the world once that happens.
All of this depends on Wisk receiving the approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration (and other government regulators) to legally transport passengers. The FAA has yet to approve any electric vertical takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL), aircraft for commercial operation. Experts estimate that it could take at least five years for regulators to approve these new types of aircraft as safe for passengers.
Electric air taxis, also known as “flying cars”, are small helicopters that don’t have noisy, polluting engines. In recent years, many startups have created prototype aircraft that can carry a few passengers and are powered by electric motors. They can also be used for short trips within a city or region. Analysts predict that the flying taxi market will grow to $150 billion by 2035.
Wisk has not let the lack of regulatory approval stop it from running its business. The company announced its latest founding announcement last year. Blade, a helicopter tourism-turned-urban mobility business, agreed to own and operate a fleet with Wisk. Wisk has also signed a deal with the New Zealand government to pilot a flying taxi trial with its all-electric, selfflying Cora.
Cora hopes to provide a flying taxi service, which can be summoned via an app. The vehicle will not be piloted by a pilot; instead, it will be operated primarily by autopilot systems with supervision from a remote human pilot.
Wisk, a rival eVTOL company Archer, was accused of stealing dozens design secrets. This led to a lawsuit and a federal investigation.

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