Wisk, a joint venture of Kitty Hawk and Boeing, signed an MoU with the government of New Zealand to begin passenger transport trials using its autonomous 'Cora' air taxi, once it is certified. (Wisk)
Wisk, the company developing the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft Cora, is moving forward with its "Transport Trial" to advance autonomous flight in New Zealand, according to a March 29 press release. Wisk will also be integrating Insitu Pacific Pty Ltd., an unmanned aerial systems (UAS) developer and Boeing subsidiary, into the program.
“New Zealand presents a unique opportunity and we are immensely proud to have been recognized by the New Zealand Government as the first airspace integration industry partner,” Anna Kominik, Asia Pacific Region Director for Wisk, said in a statement. “New Zealand’s focus on decarbonizing its economy as part of the electric transport evolution directly aligns with Wisk’s mission to deliver safe, everyday flight for everyone through effective, accessible and sustainable urban air mobility solutions.”
The Transport Trial is part of the New Zealand government’s Airspace Integration Trial Program (AITP) to test and demonstrate the integration of unmanned aircraft into airspace. Wisk will be performing flight testing, simulation work, and data analysis alongside multiple government agencies and New Zealand’s Airways Corporation, a representative from the company told Avionics International.
“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),” Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk, said in a statement. “These factors, combined with the advantages of testing and operating in a relatively un-congested airspace and the innovative culture of early adoption, makes New Zealand uniquely positioned as a leader for autonomous UAM integration trials.”
The first phase of the Transport Trial will focus on collecting and understanding data to support integrating these aircraft into the airspace system, according to the representative.
“The aim of the Transport Trial, which is part of the New Zealand government’s, broader Airspace Integration Trial Program (AITP), is to safely evaluate, test, and demonstrate the integration of unmanned aircraft into existing airspace,” the Wisk representative said. “The goal is to provide robust data that can be used by Governments, ANSP, and Civil Aviation Authorities to advance standards globally.”
Integrating Insitu into the Transport Trial will allow Wisk to use Boeing’s expertise and advanced technology to the project, according to the release. Wisk was born out of a partnership between Boeing and Kitty Hawk in 2019.
Cora, the eVTOL being developed by Wisk, is a two-passenger all-electric self-piloted aircraft. It has an experimental airworthiness certificate from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to their website.
Cora has gone through many transformations over the years and has announced five different versions of the aircraft with a sixth coming soon. Wisk declined to specify which aircraft would be used in these tests but stressed that the Transport Trial is platform agnostic.
“We are not providing details on the specifics around this yet,” the representative said. “However, it is important to stress that the Transport Trial is platform agnostic as its goal is to advance autonomous passenger transport in New Zealand - and other jurisdictions - as well as inform/support other trials in the AITP, focused around cargo delivery, agricultural services, and hazard management and monitoring services. This is part of our recognition that the operating ecosystem is as important as a certified aircraft.”