Electric air taxi startup Wisk Aero is co-developing air taxis with Kitty Hawk. The startup raises a new round of funding from Boeing. With the $450 million investment into Wish Aero, Boeing is possibly going to become “one of the most well-funded [advanced air mobility] companies in the world.”
Wisk says it will use the new funds to undertake a period of rapid growth, adding new employees to its current workforce of approximately 350 people and kicking off a manufacturing process that it says will result in a full-scale, commercially operational air taxi business within the next five years. Once that happens, the company predicts that it will conduct 14 million flights annually in around 20 major markets around the globe.
In its announcement, Wisk highlights the fact that its “a privately-backed AAM leader,” setting up a contrast with a slate of similar startups that have gone public in recent months by merging with special purpose acquisition companies, also known as SPACs or “blank check” companies. Wisk Aero was formed in 2019 as a joint venture between Boeing and Kitty Hawk, the flying taxi company bankrolled by Google co-founder Larry Page.
Of course, all of this is contingent on the US Federal Aviation Administration and other government regulators giving Wisk the approval it needs to legally carry passengers. So far, the FAA has not certified any electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for commercial operation. Experts have said that it can take a minimum of five years — and likely longer — for regulators to certify that these new types of aircraft are safe enough for passengers.
Electric air taxis, sometimes misidentified as “flying cars,” are essentially small helicopters without the noisy, polluting gas motors. A number of startups have emerged in recent years with prototype aircraft that are electric-powered, able to carry a handful of passengers, and intended for short flights within a city or regionally. Analysts predict that the flying taxi market could grow to $150 billion in revenue by 2035.
Wisk hasn’t gotten the approvals to get in the way of its developments and has made notable progress. Also, they made a deal last year with helicopter tourism-turned-urban mobility company Blade. Wisk owns and operates 30 aircraft on its own network making it an effective method to test their developments. Furthermore, the company plans to be able to provide services with an app, thus making it an effective way to use as taxis.
Credits- The Verge