It was now time for the Boeing-backed Wisk Aero to be in the spotlight. The startup's Generation 6 aircraft nailed what it claims to be the first-ever public demonstration of a fully-autonomous fixed-wing eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing).
Every July, aviation enthusiasts gather at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for one of the greatest events in the world. EAA AirVenture brings hundreds of thousands of people who want to see an incredible variety of aircraft in action. This year's edition will likely be one of the best in history. Wisk Aero wrote history only two days into the airshow with a groundbreaking flight demonstration.
Wisk claims it was the first successful public demonstration of a fully-autonomous air taxi with a fixed-wing design. After more than a decade of research and development, Wisk introduced its sixth-generation aircraft as the world's first autonomous, electric four-seat air taxi.
The latest version, which carried out the historic demonstration at Oshkosh, boasts a wingspan under 50 feet (15.2 meters) and a larger, more comfortable cabin with enough room for four passengers and carry-on luggage.
Sporting a lift plus lift/cruise configuration, this eVTOL promises a 90-mile (144 km) range with reserves, a cruising speed of 110 knots (126.5 mph/203 kph), and a cruising altitude of 2,500 to 4,000 feet (762 to 1,219 meters) above ground level.
The most important characteristic of this fixed-wing eVTOL is what Wisk calls "autonomous flight with human oversight," which means that autonomy in the air is combined with ground-based human supervision. Wisk says it wants to offer "the best of both worlds" to increase safety. A simplified design (with as few moving parts as possible) and multiple redundant systems also contribute to optimal safety.
This recent milestone at the 2023 EAA AirVenture feels natural to this AAM (Advanced Air Mobility) company. In 2017, Wisk claimed to be the first one in the US to complete the successful autonomous flight of an eVTOL for passenger transportation.
Unlike other air taxi manufacturers aiming for piloted air taxi services, at least during initial operations, Wisk is bold enough to go straight for the self-flying holy grail. Earlier this year, it became a fully-owned Boeing subsidiary, confirming that it's on the path to success.
As for the historic demonstration at Oshkosh, more details will be coming up later this week.