Wisk is back to flight-testing its Cora autonomous eVTOL
After months in lockdown, Wisk has announced it's back in the air, continuing flight testing of its autonomous two-seat Cora eVTOL aircraft at locations in New Zealand and the United States, as it prepares for certification and commercial flights.
“We are excited to resume test flights following a brief pause due to COVID-19,” says Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk. “The team’s dedication over the past few months has allowed us to remain focused on critical non-flight areas, such as certification, software development, and operations. This has allowed us to maintain momentum during this unique time. But it’s awesome to be flying again.”
The Cora airframe is a transitioning eVTOL, using 12 vertical lift props along its two airplane-style wings, as well as a pusher prop for efficient winged flight. At full speed, it can do roughly 100 mph (160 km/h) through the air, although current lithium battery technology limits these prototypes to around a 25-mile (40-km) range.
Wisk is using New Zealand as a key base of operations due to some interesting provisions in the NZ aviation authority flight codes, which could allow the Cora to fly commercially well before it's possible in other parts of the world. This could give Wisk a commercial advantage over the rest of the eVTOL air taxi market. To date, the company has made more than 1,300 test flights, gradually expanding the flight envelope and developing procedures and processes for safe operation.
“Our first priority has always been safety, both for our employees and in the development of our aircraft,” says Carl Engel, Director, Flight Test for Wisk. “As we return to flight testing, we have implemented a number of procedures and social distancing measures based on best practices and recommendations from local and national health and government organizations.”