Aerospace

Boeing and Wisk unveil air taxi infrastructure concept

23 September 2022
An artist rendering of a possible future with aircraft being built from both Wisk and Boeing. Source: Wisk

Boeing and Wisk have released their air mobility roadmap where automated and uncrewed aircraft will be able to carry passengers and cargo in urban and suburban areas.

The roadmap gives technology, regulatory and social recommendations needed to deploy urban air mobility (UAM) in the U.S. as well as the best ways to integrate it into national airspace. The goal is to make it possible to automate flights to reduce the load on air traffic controllers and pilots by providing unmanned flights day or night under visual or instrument flight rules. These systems would be supported by automated onboard and ground-based systems.

“The important work we’re sharing today provides a steppingstone in the advancement of UAM in the U.S. and the world,” said Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk.

Earlier this year, Wisk said it was in development of a four-seat electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi. The 6th generation aircraft is currently testing and when it launches it will have no pilot and autonomously carry passengers to urban destinations.

The larger seat configuration provides more space for passengers and baggage while allowing a service that can also cater to those with disabilities. Additionally, the aircraft’s larger capacity opens the possibility for future use cases such as higher payloads for cargo transportation and cabin volume to better support other applications and use cases long term.

“The vison we have outlined is the result of many years of collaboration with Boeing, the FAA, NASA and key industry stakeholders,” Gysin said. “As a result, this document offers the most comprehensive framework proposed to date with a vision for enabling UAM in the national airspace.”

The framework

As part of the planned framework, Boeing and Wisk would create new infrastructure such as vertiports, or locations where UAM aircraft will be able to take off and land, load and unload passengers or cargo and receive services or maintenance.

Vertiports is a new idea for eVTOL and one that is shared by many aircraft vendors globally as a possible solution for the future of air taxis and cargo eVTOLs. Earlier this year, Supernal, Hyundai’s air taxi company, and Urban-Air Port debuted a multi-modal infrastructure hub that would be used for future electric air travel. These vertiports would be mobile and could be redeployed as needed for commuters or in the event of a natural disaster where emergency services are needed.

Boeing and Wisk also recommend the creation of a fleet operations center where multi-vehicle supervisors would monitor flights, implement air traffic control instructions to maintain aircraft separation and ensure safe operation of the flight.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com


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