Wisk says it is on track to begin what it calls a “transport trial” of its Cora all-electric, autonomous eVTOL aircraft in New Zealand during the second half of 2021. The two-seater is set to participate in demonstration flights in South Canterbury as part of the government’s Airspace Integration Trial Programme, but these will not be made with passengers on board.
To support the work, Wisk has enlisted the help of Boeing subsidiary Insitu Pacific Pty Ltd, which is a specialist in unmanned aerial systems. Wisk is a joint venture between Boeing and Kitty Hawk.
The overall purpose of the flight trials is to safely evaluate, test, and demonstrate the integration of unmanned aircraft into existing airspace. The program is based on a memorandum of understanding signed with the New Zealand government in February 2020, with both parties now engaged in detailed planning for the next phases of the trials.
To date, Wisk has made around 1,500 test flights with the Cora, backed by Boeing’s expertise in integrating piloted and autonomous technology. Earlier phases of the program focused on understanding and collecting the data to support the safe integration of autonomous aircraft into the airspace.
A spokesman told FutureFlight that the company will now undertake a program of flight testing, as well as simulation work and data analysis involving multiple government agencies and New Zealand’s air navigation services provider Airways Corporation. “The goal of this is to provide robust, platform-agnostic data that can be used by governments, air navigation service providers, and civil aviation authorities globally to advance standards,” he explained.
Wisk has not published a timeline for the anticipated type certification of the Cora. The California-based company is also working with the FAA with a goal of eventually receiving U.S. approval for autonomous flight operations.