Government partners with Wisk for world-first trial of self-flying air taxi ‘Cora‘ in Canterbury

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineFebruary 4, 2020

The Government has signed a memorandum of understanding with urban air mobility company Wisk (the new trading name of Zephyr Airworks) to support a world-first passenger transport trial of the company‘s all-electric, self-flying air taxi ‘Cora‘ in Canterbury.

Wisk has been testing Cora in the Canterbury region since 2017, and a passenger transport trial is a next step for the company on their journey towards taking their world-leading technology to market.

Last year Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods announced the establishment of the Airspace Integration Trials Programme and that Wisk was the first industry partner to join.

“I‘m pleased to announce that an agreement is now in place and planning for a passenger transport trial in my home region of Canterbury is under way,” she said.

“The Government sees great potential in the development of an innovative unmanned aircraft sector in New Zealand and we are in a prime position to work with globally leading companies here to safely test and go to market.”

Woods said as well as the economic and social benefits the growth of this industry offers, the Government also shares Wisk‘s vision of a greener, emission-free way for Kiwis and visitors to New Zealand to get around. Enabling the emergence of an entirely electric air taxi service is a natural fit with New Zealand‘s goal of being zero carbon by 2050.

“Canterbury is home to an emerging cluster of innovative aerospace and aviation companies and its manufacturing and technology sectors are the second largest in New Zealand. The city‘s strong tertiary and research ecosystem alongside the connectivity to the rest of the world, with an international seaport and airport, makes Christchurch attractive for trialling new technology.” 

The specific details regarding the trial parameters, timeframes, and the proposed routes are currently being developed in collaboration with local partners.

“The establishment of this trial will require Government, industry and key stakeholders at a national and local level working together to develop and deliver a robust plan for safe operation in the Christchurch area,” Woods said.

“This trial is the first of its kind and Wisk‘s innovative technology and commitment to New Zealand make them an ideal partner for advancing the future of travel in New Zealand and the world.”