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Wisk gets govt approval for flying taxi trials in Canterbury

06 Feb 2020

Autonomous air taxis could soon be coming to Canterbury’s skies as part of a passenger transport trial by a company called Wisk.

Wisk has ben testing its all-electric taxi, called Cora, since 2017. In Ocober 2019 the Government announced the establishment of a new industry-wide ‘Airspace Integration Trial’ with unmanned aircraft.

Wisk signed on as the first industry partner to join the programme, which means Cora is one step closer to becoming a passenger transport aircraft.

“Wisk has been working with the Government and people of New Zealand since 2017,” says Wisk CEO Gary Gysin.

“We are delighted to now have a signed agreement with the New Zealand Government, which will propel Cora’s entry to the air taxi market. We see this agreement as a sign of confidence in our product and abilities to develop and deliver a safe and reliable air taxi service, starting in New Zealand.”

New Zealand values innovation, excellence and technology that is safe for people and the environment. Being selected as the partner for this program is an honour and testament to our hard work and steady progress,” says Gyson.

But don’t expect to be jumping into one of these taxis anytime soon, because there’s still a lot of work to do.

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods says the government sees great potential in developing the unmanned aircraft sector in New Zealand.

“As well as the economic and social benefits the growth of this industry offers, we also share Wisk’s vision of a greener, emission-free way for Kiwis and visitors to New Zealand to get around.  Enabling the emergence of an entirely electric air taxi service is a natural fit with New Zealand’s zero carbon goal by 2050,” she says.

“Canterbury is home to an emerging cluster of innovative aerospace and aviation companies and its manufacturing and technology sectors are the second largest in New Zealand. The city’s strong tertiary and research eco-system alongside the connectivity to the rest of the world, with an international seaport and airport, makes Christchurch attractive for trialling new technology.” 

Wisk and Cora have already completed more than 1000 test flights, while Wisk itself has attracted the interests of Boeing and Kitty Hawk.

The passenger route is a world’s first and will commence after Cora’s certification by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.

“This trial is the first of its kind and Wisk’s innovative technology and commitment to New Zealand make them an ideal partner for advancing the future of travel in New Zealand and the world,” concludes Woods.

*Photo: Cora Air Taxi by Wisk