Boeing’s air taxi venture is set to make its debut on the largest aviation stage in the world.
Wisk Aero, of which Boeing took full ownership in May, on Wednesday announced it will display its 6th generation autonomous air taxi at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, this month. The self-flying electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft will feature at an event that last year hosted 650,000 guests.
Oshkosh has hosted other air taxi companies in the past, but Wisk is the first to announce its presence at this year’s show.
Unlike competitors Archer Aviation, Joby Aviation, and Lilium, Wisk wants its four-passenger air taxi to enter service without a pilot. Rather, flights will be monitored from the ground. Remote supervisors will give the aircraft commands, which it will execute autonomously.
“This venture is absolutely committed to certifying the world’s first autonomous aircraft,” Wisk Aero CEO Brian Yutko told press last month at the Paris Air Show, where the company unveiled its 6th generation prototype mockup to the public. “There is no backup plan. And we’re very proud to succeed or fail on that mission. We realize that it’s risky. We realize that it’s ambitious, but people should do ambitious things, and we’re doing an ambitious thing.”
At the Oshkosh air show, the eVTOL maker will again display its latest design in the Wisk chalet. On Monday, July 24, the company will host a forum session featuring a panel of Wisk general aviation pilots, who will discuss the impact of self-flying air taxis on the rest of the industry. The forum will be moderated by Steve Thorne of FlightChops and include a Q&A session.
“Many of our employees are pilots and we have long dreamed of sharing the groundbreaking, innovative work that we’re doing at Oshkosh,” said Yutko. “This year, we’re fulfilling that dream. We are excited to introduce the Oshkosh community to our 6th Generation air taxi and to share more about how autonomous flight is going to positively change the future of aviation.”
Wisk formed in 2019 through a strategic partnership between Boeing and Kitty Hawk, the now-defunct venture of Google co-founder Larry Page. The firm first unveiled the current iteration of its eVTOL design—which it says is its first candidate for FAA type certification—in October 2022.
The Gen 6 model is expected to have a range of 90 sm (78 nm) with reserves and a cruise speed of 110 to 120 knots. It will typically cruise between 2,500 and 4,000 feet agl, with room for four passengers and carry-on luggage.
The design features 12 wing-mounted electric propellers, including six fore-mounted propellers that rotate from lift to cruise configuration. Rear-mounted motors provide vertical lift during takeoff and landing. When transitioning to forward flight, the motors turn off and stow.
A redundant energy storage system featuring battery packs keeps the system humming in the event of one or more battery failures. The batteries have a charge time of just 15 minutes.
The Gen 6 air taxi’s inertial navigation systems, which are key to autonomous flight, will be handled by Safran Electronics and Defense’s SkyNaute. Yutko spoke about the importance of the mega-OEM’s backing at the Paris Air Show.
Wisk expects the Gen 6 air taxi to be cost competitive with ground-based services like Uber and Lyft, hoping to offer dedicated urban air mobility (UAM) routes for just $3 per passenger per mile. More details about Wisk’s planned services, including safeguards for its autonomous aircraft, can be found in the company’s operational roadmap.
So far, the company has taken steps to launch a service in Long Beach, California, and it has an agreement in place with Blade Urban Air Mobility to supply up to 30 eVTOLs for services on the East Coast. Wisk has also laid the groundwork to fly in Japan and Australia.
In anticipation of those launches, the air taxi maker opened a dedicated Gen 6 engineering hub in Montreal, Canada, last August. It also partnered with vertiport developer SkyPorts to develop guidelines for integrating eVTOL operations and infrastructure.
Wisk will likely have a longer path to market than its competitors. Unlike Archer and Joby, it has yet to receive the FAA green light for flight testing of its type-conforming Gen 6 model. That’s expected to happen later this year. But Wisk’s testing will probably be more rigorous than its rivals’ because of the safety concerns around autonomous flight.
To that point, Yutko last month would only commit to a 2030 launch, while both Archer and Joby are eyeing commercial services in 2025.