A glimpse into Wisk’s 6th-generation eVTOL aircraft
By Jen Nevans | April 18, 2022
Estimated reading time 7 minutes, 3 seconds.
California-based Wisk Aero has revealed that its sixth-generation eVTOL aircraft — the model that the company plans to get type certified with U.S. aviation authorities — will have four seats.
It’s one of the first details the eVTOL company has provided about the aircraft, with Wisk notoriously deflecting questions about its newest eVTOL design up to this point.
But in a TV segment with American broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper, the company talked about developing and certifying an autonomous eVTOL, sharing small details about its upcoming aircraft.
The interview was broadcasted on CBS’ 60 Minutes on Sunday, and also featured California-based Joby Aviation and Texas-based LIFT Aircraft, as well as cameos from Beta Technologies, Archer Aviation, EHang, and Lilium, among others.
Gary Gysin, Wisk’s CEO, said in the segment that when its four-seat autonomous aircraft does take off with passengers on board, the company doesn’t plan to completely remove the pilot out of the picture.
Gysin said each passenger “can be in verbal communication with the ground. They can be talking to a pilot whenever they want to, so it’s all designed to provide comfort.”
Wisk still hasn’t set a target certification date for its autonomous vehicle, but Cooper reported that Wisk wants to have its aircraft ready for passenger services in the world’s 20 busiest cities within the next decade.
While Wisk remains silent on when its aircraft would be commercially available, JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby, firmly told Cooper that the eVTOL developer planned to launch piloted passenger services in 2024.
Meanwhile, Gysin didn’t indicate how much it would cost passengers to fly in a Wisk aircraft, but believes Wisk’s autonomous capabilities would act in its favor.
Article Continues Below
“If you don’t have a pilot in the aircraft, it’s less expensive, you don’t have to do pilot training, you’re flying four passengers, [and] we can charge less,” Gysin said. “We don’t want this to be a premium helicopter service. We want this to be affordable to the masses.”
In Wisk’s blog post following the episode, the company said there’s a reason why Wisk chose to design its sixth-generation aircraft with four seats.
“The larger seat configuration provides more space for passengers and baggage, while allowing us to ensure that we’re creating a service that is accessible for those with disabilities,” the post stated. “In addition to these benefits, our sixth-generation aircraft’s larger capacity opens the door to future use cases. Higher payloads and cabin volume will better support other applications and use cases long term.”
Backed by Boeing and Kitty Hawk, Wisk has designed and developed five generations of eVTOL aircraft since 2010, doing much of this work in stealth mode, the company said.
“However, the day in which you’ll be able to skip traffic by flying over it in an air taxi is approaching and we want the world to be ready,” Wisk stated in its blog post. “That’s why, in 2020, we started sharing our progress by inviting the public to join us on our leap into the future of mobility.”
Perhaps fitting for a company that has chosen to stay out of the public’s eye for a decade, Wisk has kept details about its sixth-generation aircraft under wraps. Other than its autonomous capabilities and four-seat configuration, the company hasn’t said much about the eVTOL air taxi.
Even with its fifth-generation aircraft, it was only last year when Wisk decided to display it for the first time in the U.S. Up until that point, the public had only seen that aircraft model in flight videos and photos.
Beyond the small details from the television segment, a company spokesperson said it will be saving all other details about its sixth-generation aircraft for the official unveiling later this year.