An agreement has been signed between Air New Zealand and Zephyr Airworks, which entails the two to work collaboratively on bringing the first autonomous electric air taxi service in the world, to market in New Zealand.
According to a recent report, a self-flying small plane is being developed by Zephyr. It is called the Cora, and is being tested in Canterbury, in New Zealand’s South Island.
While it is estimated that the aircraft is still six years away from commercial launch, there are test flights that are already taking place in a private airport near Christchurch.
The company has previously spoken about the possible use of the pilot-less Cora for automated tourist flights or short-haul flights.
For instance, the Cora could fly passengers from Auckland Airport to the city’s CBD since it has the capability to do a vertical take-off and landing.
The prototype that is being tested in Canterbury can hold two passengers and can travel 100 kilometres at a speed of up to 180 km per hour on a charge.
The autonomous plane has been under development since 2010.
The company is currently searching for a lot of staff. Most of its open positions, however, are for its Mountain View, California office. Still, it also has two positions open in Christchurch.
The company is working as fast as they can towards their target to launch Cora within six years. They are working on their certification and go-to market and are coordinating with New Zealand coordinators on their certification pathway.
Testing has been going well for the company and is pleased to share about the progress they are making.
They have accomplished more than 700 hours of testing across NZ and US sites. Notably, the company is not carrying passengers at this point of their testing.
Cora is using self-flying software that is combined with expert human oversight and ultimately will make flying possible for people without any training.
Air New Zealand finds the company’s innovative technology as well as its commitment to New Zealand the reasons behind why they make an ideal partner for advancing the future of travel in the country.
Both companies are able to see the potential of New Zealand’s airspace in freeing the people from the constraints of traffic and its associated social, economic and environmental impacts.
Cora gives importance on the time one could save soaring over traffic. It gave a new meaning to being an air taxi for everyday life.
It has brought the airport to the people with its ability to take off and to land like a helicopter.It has eliminated the need for runways.
It has the potential to transform spaces like rooftops and parking lots into places to take off right from one’s own neighbourhood.