California-based Wisk Aero has announced a $450-million funding boost from The Boeing Company to further develop its sixth-generation eVTOL aircraft — the model that the company plans to get type-certified with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as an autonomous, all-electric, passenger-carrying aircraft.
In a press release issued this morning, Wisk said the $450 million pitched in from Boeing, combined with previously raised funds, makes the eVTOL developer one of the most well-funded advanced air mobility (AAM) companies in the world.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have Boeing as not only an investor but a strategic partner, which provides us with access to a breadth of resources, industry-leading expertise, a global reach, extensive certification experience, and more,” said Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk.
Along with advancing its aircraft, funding will also be used to support the company’s intensive growth over 2022, including preparing to launch scale manufacturing and expanding its team. The company recently added two new members to its leadership team including Sebastien Vigneron as senior vice president of engineering and programs, and Ricky Robinson as chief people officer.
The announcement is the latest development in Wisk’s journey to becoming what it hopes to be the developer of the industry’s largest fleet of eVTOL aircraft within five years after certification. At this stage, Wisk projects conducting close to 14 million flights every year for more than 40 million people across 20 cities. Executives believe that the aircraft’s autonomous technology will give it a competitive edge to scaling its services.
“Autonomy is the key to unlocking scale across all AAM applications, from passenger to cargo and beyond,” said Marc Allen, chief strategy officer of Boeing. “That’s why straight-to-autonomy is a core first principle.”
Wisk’s self-flying technology is expected to be more complicated to certify than piloted eVTOL aircraft, but when eVTOL.com spoke to Wisk’s Dan Dalton in November, the vice president of global partnerships said he has come to terms with the fact that Wisk won’t be the first to market with an eVTOL. Instead, the company intends to be the first to introduce a fully autonomous air taxi to the U.S. market.
Wisk has more than a decade of experience, launching in 2010 as Zee.Aero. The company later merged with Kitty Hawk Corporation before being spun out to form Wisk Aero, with an investment from Boeing.
Over the years, the company has secured partnerships to explore autonomous flight integration. This includes working with NASA to explore safe integration of autonomous aircraft systems through modeling and simulation, as well as the New Zealand government to participate as the first partner in the country’s Airspace Integration Trials Programme.
Now an independent company backed by Boeing and Kitty Hawk, Wisk said it has achieved the first flight of an all-electric, autonomous eVTOL air taxi in the U.S.,and has logged more than 1,500 test flights across its various prototypes. The company displayed its fifth-generation autonomous eVTOL air taxi for the first time in the U.S. at the CoMotion LA in November.