Wisk (formerly Kitty Hawk Corp.)
Mountain View, California, USA
On Dec. 2, 2019, it was announced that The Boeing Company and Kitty Hawk Corporation established a joint venture forming the new company called Wisk. As of January 2020, Wisk has 300 employees and is currently hiring.
Wisk is led by Gary Gysin, the former president and CEO of Liquid Robotics, which was acquired by The Boeing Company three years ago after partnering for two years on the development of advance maritime defense solutions. Kitty Hawk continues to develop eVTOL aircraft under the leadership of CEO Sebastian Thrun.
Wisk's first electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft is the Cora autonomous aircraft. The reason for forming a new company, is that Boeing can take advantage of Kitty Hawks' innovated eVTOL aircraft and Kitty Hawk can take advantage of Boeing's manufacturing and aerospace abilities.
In 2017, the Kitty Hawk Cora program received $1 million from the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), a Pentagon organization that focuses on implementing cutting-edge technology into the U.S. Military.
Then Cora was first revealed on Mar. 12, 2018, after nearly eight years of secretive eVTOL developments by Zee Aero (originally founded in March 2010) and was backed by Larry Page (the co-founder of Google); in 2017, the company was absorbed by Kitty Hawk, another eVTOL company backed by Page.
On Mar. 12, 2018, Kitty Hawk announced that it had been flying a two-seat eVTOL aircraft named Cora in California and New Zealand, which was a derivative of the Zee Aero Z-P2. The company also announced:
- Kitty Hawk established Zephyr Airworks in December 2016 "to be able to test and work with the New Zealand Government, New Zealand Maori people and Iwi, business partners and the community. We shipped our first air taxi to New Zealand in October 2017 and began testing shortly after that."
- Zephyr Airworks is the operator of Kitty Hawk in New Zealand. New Zealand is recognized for its safety-focused regulatory environment and a strong history of excellence in airspace management.
For its initial flight testing, Cora was only permitted to test three times per week, and was limited to the airspace over Hollister Airport. This is likely one of the reasons why Wisk has been making test flights in New Zealand, as they can fly the aircraft more often there. Now, in the USA, Cora is allowed to fly up to 5,000 ft, either flying itself or with non-paying passengers aboard. It was announced that as of January 2020, Cora has logged over 1,000 flights.
Cora is a two passenger autonomous eVTOL aircraft with 12 independent electric-powered lifting propellers mounted on its 36 ft (11 m) long wings for vertical takeoffs and landings and one three-bladed pusher propeller providing thrust for forward flight. It has tricycle wheeled stationary landing gear. It was confirmed in January 2020, that Wisk will only be making the Cora eVTOL as an autonomous aircraft, there will be no pilot.
According to an eVTOL.com article published on Jan. 20, 2020 and written by the award-winning journalist Elan Head, interviewed Wisk's CEO Gary Gysin who pointed out that Uber Elevate's white paper from 2016 cited (on page 39 of the PDF white paper), on trips less than 100 miles (161 km), over 70% of the trips had one person, with the average car trip holding 1.3 people. “A lot of times, people are on their own,” Gysin said, explaining that with a two-seat model, “you don’t have to wait to fill an aircraft." And paraphrasing Gysin, many people are on their own when traveling to work.
Wisk knows that Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is not just about flying people to and from work. A few examples of the varied applications of urban flight include: going to and from an airport, shopping, going to a doctor's appointment, traveling to dinner, or performing any other activity that takes place in an urban environment.
While Cora is a two passenger eVTOL aircraft, the company does have plans for making a larger passenger eVTOL aircraft but there is nothing Wisk can reveal right now (as of January 2020), about any future aircraft. Please read the Kitty Hawk Heaviside, Kitty Hawk Flyer, and the Flyer prototype pages if interested in Kitty Hawk's aircraft.
In November 2020, Wisk announced they are in a partnering with NASA's Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign strategy to develop key guidelines for Urban Air Mobility operations, including autonomous flight and contingency management, collision avoidance and flight path management, certification and standards development and more. Wisk will also be conducting demonstration flights with NASA.
In March 2021, it was reported that Boeing is merging Aurora Flight Sciences with Wisk, to combine the knowledge and experience both companies have gained for the betterment of the company. Wisk also announced they are planning to start with a self-flying aircraft going to the market first, instead of what most other eVTOL companies are doing which is offering piloted aircraft first to the market and then later, transitioning to self-flying aircraft.
- Aircraft: eVTOL
- Piloting: Autonomous
- Passengers: 2
- Cruising speed: 110 mph (180 kp/h)
- Range: 62 miles (100 km)
- Flight time: 19 minutes with a 10 minute reserve
- Payload: 400 lb (181 kg)
- Power: 100% electric
- Cruising altitude: Operates between 500 ft to 3,000 ft (150 m to 900 m) above the ground
- Maximum altitude: 10,000 ft (3.04 km)
- VTOL flight: 12 propellers
- Forward flight: 1 pusher propeller
- Main wing: High-wing, 36 feet (11 m)
- Tail: Twin book with inverted U horizontal stabilizer and has 3 flaps
- Landing gear: Wheeled tricycle stationary landing gear
- Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) allows multiple propellers for VTOL flight, if several of the propellers stop working for any reason, the aircraft can still land safely. Triple Redundant Flight-Computer, equipped with three independent flight-computers that each calculate its location. If there’s an issue with one of them, the aircraft can still reliably navigate. There is no single point of failure. The aircraft also has a parachute if all else fails.
- Wisk website
- Wisk Facebook
- Wisk Twitter
- Wisk YouTube Channel
- Wisk Instagram
- Wisk LinkedIn
- FAA Certification: N301XZ
- Article: Larry Page’s Flying Taxis, Now Exiting Stealth Mode, NY Times, Mar. 12, 2018
- Video: Meet Cora, Kitty Hawk, Mar. 12, 2018
- Article: Kitty Hawk unveils Cora aircraft for eVTOL air taxi market, Flight Global, Mar. 13, 2018
- Article: Air taxi trials possible in six years as tech company trials flying vehicle in Canterbury, Stuff, Mar. 13, 2018
- Tweet: Evolution of @kittyhawkcorp eVTOL, Twitter, Mar. 13, 2018
- Article: Ready for liftoff? Two flying taxi startups got Pentagon funding, The Guardian, July 10, 2018
- Article: Kitty Hawk Announcements, Electric VTOL News Aug. 4, 2019
- Article: Kitty Hawk Reveals Heaviside, Electric VTOL News Nov. 4, 2019
- Article: Teaming for Transformative Vertical Flight, Vertiflite, November/December 2019
- Article: Boeing and Kitty Hawk Launch eVTOL Joint Venture Wisk, Aviation International News Online, Dec. 3, 2019
- Article: Boeing and Kitty Hawk to develop Cora eVTOL under Wisk joint venture, eVTOL Magazine, Dec. 3, 2019
- Video: Wisk – We’ve Arrived, Wisk, Dec. 12, 2019
- Video: Wisk - Meet Cora, Wisk, Dec. 12, 2019
- Article: Cora + Boeing = Wisk, Electric VTOL News Jan. 1, 2020
- Article: Cora + Boeing = Wisk, Electric VTOL News Jan. 3, 2020
- Article: Wisk’s electric air taxis will fly themselves, says CEO, eVTOL, Jan. 20, 2020
- Article: Cora Down Under and Autonomous, Electric VTOL News Mar. 3, 2020
- Article: Financing the Electric VTOL Revolution, Electric VTOL News, Jun. 17, 2020
- Article: Wisk Announces First-Of-Its-Kind Partnership With NASA To Create New Framework For Autonomous Passenger Flight, eVTOL Insights, Nov. 16, 2020
- Article: Wisk’s self-flying air taxis are Boeing’s ‘singular play’ for urban air mobility, eVTOL Magazine, Mar. 19, 2021
- Article: Electric self-flying taxi on display, as Christchurch shows off future of air travel, Stuff (New Zealand), Apr. 17, 2021
- Article: eVTOL Insights Podcast: Anna Kominik of Wisk talks more about its work in New Zealand, eVTOL Insights, June 3, 2021