Boeing places $450M into firm constructing electrical, autonomous, passenger-carrying planes

An aircraft created by Wisk Aero, an electric aviation company backed by Boeing and Kitty Hawk. (Wisk Aero LLC Photo)

Boeing is investing $450 million in Wisk Aero, a company that’s building all-electric, autonomous, passenger-carrying aircraft.

Wisk is developing its sixth-generation aircraft, and expects to be the first-ever U.S. candidate for certification of a flying electric taxi. The company, which is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and New Zealand, has set a goal of operating “one of the industry’s largest fleets” of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft within five years of certification.

Wisk launched in 2010 as Zee Aero and later merged with Kitty Hawk, a venture backed by Google co-founder Larry Page. In June 2019, Kitty Hawk and Boeing announced a strategic partnership to continue developing electric planes and six month later Wisk spun out of the original effort. Wisk is an independent company backed by Boeing and Kitty Hawk.

“Autonomy is the key to unlocking scale across all AAM [advanced air mobility] applications, from passenger to cargo and beyond. That’s why straight-to-autonomy is a core first principle,” said Marc Allen, Boeing’s chief strategy officer, in a statement Monday announcing the funding.

As Boeing pursues electric aircraft outside of its home state of Washington, other companies in the green aviation space are expanding into its historic backyard. ZeroAvia recently announced it’s building a research-and-development facility at Everett’s Paine Field, while MagniX moved into a new manufacturing building in the area a year ago.

Boeing was a Seattle startup back in 1916, and in the 1960s began assembling its wide-body jets in Everett. In recent years, commercial space ventures have set up shop in Western Washington, with Blue Origin’s headquarters based south of Seattle and SpaceX also operating in the area.

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