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Wisk Aero starts flight testing electric autonomous aircraft in Los Angeles

Electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle company Wisk Aero has started flight testing a version of its autonomous air taxi aircraft in Los Angeles, according to CEO Brian Yutko.

The flight test of its fifth-generation aircraft, also known as Cora, out of the Long Beach Airport near Los Angeles doesn’t necessarily mean that Wisk will launch commercially in the city, Yutko explained on the sidelines of the UP Summit held at the Perot Circle T Ranch near Dallas. But it does illustrate how Wisk continues to progress on testing on the road to commercializating an air taxi service once it receives the necessary certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for the next-generation (or the sixth) aircraft in it portfolio.

Wisk, a subsidiary of Boeing, is aiming to launch and commercialize the sixth-generation of its all-electric autonomous aircraft. The company unveiled in October 2022 the sixth-generation four-passenger autonomous aircraft and started the lengthy process to receive Type certification with the FAA to meet all of the agency’s design and safety standards. The company will also have to receive operational approval and supervisor qualification from the FAA before it can commercially fly and operate an air taxi service.

The company has an experimental certification from the FAA for the fifth-generation aircraft, which allows it to test the aircraft. Wisk recently started testing the fifth-generation air taxi in Los Angeles — it’s third test location. The company also tested the fifth-generation air taxi earlier this year in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and out of the San Luis Obispo airport. Yutko said Wisk will likely test in other markets as well.

“Testing goes well beyond the aircraft,” Yutko told TechCrunch. “You have to be able to get the people and the systems working together in real environments to learn and iterate. This is real world autonomy we’re talking about,” he added to emphasize the importance of testing an autonomous system.

Wisk is currently building the sixth-generation aircraft and is aiming to receive an experimental certification from the FAA by 2024. Yutko said he expects the six-generation aircraft will be flying at the next UP Summit, which is scheduled to be held in Bentonville, Arkansas in fall 2024.

source: TechCrunch