New Zealand-tested flying electric taxi firm Wisk gets US$450 million Boeing funding boost

Wisk, the aviation company which announced it would be testing its autonomous electric air taxi in New Zealand, has received another US$450 million (NZ$673m) in funding from Boeing.

The company is a joint venture between Boeing and Kitty Hawk Corporation, and said in 2020 it had signed a deal with the New Zealand Government to test its proposed Uber-like service in Christchurch.

Kitty Hawk was bankrolled by Google co-founder Larry Page.

Wisk's aircraft, named Cora, is a self-flying electric air taxi that has vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) like a helicopter but flies like a normal plane.

The current fifth-generation aircraft has a range of around 40km and a maximum cruise speed of just over 160km/h.

The new funding will go towards the sixth-generation of Cora as the company aims to create one of the industry's largest fleets of electric VTOL aircrafts.

Within five years of certification of the sixth-generation, the company is aiming for 14 million annual flights, hoping those will save time for 40 million people across 20 cities.

"Wisk is extremely well-positioned to deliver on our long-term strategy and commitment to safe, everyday flight for everyone," CEO Gary Gysin said..

"As we enter this next stage of our growth, this additional funding provides us with capital while allowing us to remain focused on our core business and our number one priority, safety.”

Chief strategy officer of Boeing, Marc Allen, said the company was focusing on moving straight to autonomous flying.

"With this investment, we are reconfirming our belief in Wisk's business and the importance of their work in pioneering all-electric, AI-driven, autonomous capability for the aerospace industry."

Aotearoa was uniquely positioned as a leader for autonomous integration trials, Gysin said in 2021.

"Wisk has always seen the distinct advantages of New Zealand, including the country’s globally respected Civil Aviation Authority and flexibility for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)."

No timescale was put on the certification of Cora, but the company says it has taken over 1500 test flights to date.

The company has been approached by Newshub for comment.

Meanwhile the BBC has reported a hybrid car-aircraft, the AirCar, has been issued a certificate of airworthiness by the Slovak Transport Authority.

The flying car has a BMW engine and is capable of flying at an altitude of 2500m and at 160km/h. It runs on regular car fuel.

The company has over 70 hours of testing and more than 200 take-offs and landings, the company told the BBC.

It said it was planning to fly from Paris to London in the near future. It's already completed a 35-minute flight between two international airports in Slovakia.