Wisk is partnering with the Council of Mayors in South East Queensland, Australia, to explore integration of autonomous aircraft, like Wisk’s eVTOL, into the region. (Photo courtesy of Wisk)

Electric air taxi developer Wisk Aero has entered into a partnership with the Council of Mayors South East Queensland to bring autonomous aircraft services to the region. Wisk and the Council of Mayors signed a Memorandum of Understanding which spells out their intent for collaboration, and Wisk is adding personnel that will be based in Australia, expanding their presence in the country.

According to the recent announcement from Wisk, the fifth generation of Wisk’s aircraft will be on display in Brisbane next month. The company, based in San Francisco and in New Zealand, is developing an autonomous electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft called Cora. The eVTOL has earned experimental airworthiness certificates from both the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Federal Aviation Administration.

As part of the agreement between Wisk and the Council of Mayors, the two entities will collaborate on future business interests related to autonomous flight, Catherine MacGowan, Asia Pacific Region Director for Wisk, told Avionics International in an emailed statement. 

“Wisk brings investment to the state, district, and regional economies,” she remarked. “In the early stage of our partnership, this will focus on providing employment and training opportunities, including building a pipeline of talent by working with local tertiary and training institutions on R&D and education opportunities.”

MacGowan noted that Wisk initially plans to add a small number of staff as their Australia-based personnel to complement the company’s global team. The staff members will work closely with regulators and other key stakeholders, she added.

“We are looking forward to [this collaboration] to develop the ecosystem that will enable self-flying air taxis to be part of the future of transport in this region.” – Catherine MacGowan, Wisk’s Asia Pacific Region Director (Photo courtesy of Wisk)

The state of Queensland ranks third for transportation-related carbon emissions in Australia, according to MacGowan, which is part of the reason for selecting the South East Queensland region to introduce advanced air mobility (AAM). Wisk’s fully-electric aircraft could facilitate the introduction of zero-emission aviation operations there.

Although Wisk declined to comment on a timeline for beginning eVTOL operations in Queensland, the company is eager to start collaboration with the local government, and the first step is establishing a pipeline of talent based in Australia. “We are looking forward to [this collaboration] to develop the ecosystem that will enable self-flying air taxis to be part of the future of transport in this region,” MacGowan shared.

Wisk’s CEO, Gary Gysin, commented in the company’s announcement that they look forward to working closely with the forward-thinking members of the Council of Mayors. “This is an exciting time for us, as we continue our momentum and expand our global presence,” Gysin stated.

The South East Queensland region includes a range of landscapes—rural, beach, and city environments—which offers opportunities for exploring and launching new technologies, remarked the Council of Mayors Chair, Brisbane Lord Mayor Cr Adrian Schrinner. “We expect to see the emergence of advanced air technology in places like Paris and Los Angeles, and by 2032 I’d love to see it supporting new and innovative experiences for tourism and travel in South East Queensland,” Schrinner said.

Another location where Wisk is considering launching eVTOL operations is Long Beach, California. The company shared in February that they are conducting a study on the economic impact of AAM operations in the region, collaborating with the Long Beach Economic Partnership. The study will explore various components of AAM integration, including how to establish community acceptance and solutions for integrating autonomous aircraft like Wisk’s eVTOL into existing transportation plans for the City of Long Beach.

In January, Boeing provided $450 million in funding for Wisk’s eVTOL development and to support the eventual launch of scale manufacturing. Wisk is also an industry partner of NASA, and has collaborated with Blade Urban Air Mobility to explore eVTOL operations on Blade’s network of terminals.

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