In an interview with Defensehere.com at the 54th Paris Air Show, Jay Pankowski, Operations Support Manager of the Wisk, discussed the company's all-electric, self-flying, four seats aircraft, Wisk Generation 6.
The U.S. based Wisk is an civil aviation company founded in 2010. It aims to set out to explore the possibilities of electric, vertical takeoff and landing flight. Wisk has developed multiple generations of aircraft and conducted more than 1600+ test flights over the years.
In 2023, Wisk became a fully-owned subsidiary of Boeing. While it operates separately, this marriage allows Wisk to tap into Boeing’s development, testing, and certification expertise.
As an Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing Aircraft (eVTOL), Wisk's Generation 6 has capacity to have 4 passengers on board. According to the company, as an air taxi, the Generation 6's range is 144 kilometers. Also, it's charging takes 15 minutes.
"Wisk is a fully autonomous electric aircraft. We are the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). We have designed and built five generations previous to the one you see behind me. We have been in business for about 13 years now, flying for over ten of them." said Pankowski. "We are in the market for an air taxi service. We're based out of California where our headquarters are. We do flight testing south of headquarters. And then we have offices spread throughout the world."
No pilot on board!
"This is our sixth generation aircraft you see behind me. This one is geared towards passenger comfort and carrying 4 passengers." explained Pankowski. "So we are fully autonomous. We think that the the best method to make some money in this industry is to get rid of the most expensive part of flying, which is the pilot. Besides not having a pilot on board, it's also all electric, which also brings down the cost." Pankowski added.
"The main differentiator is that we do not have the pilot on board." stressed Pankowski. "To compare to a car, we cost between $4 and $5 a mile per passenger. From cars perspective, we're going to be around the range of an Uber, Uber black. From downtown Paris out to the airport (Le Bourget), it would be about €75 and an Uber would be about €70. We are hoping for an entry into service day towards the end of the decade, around 2030."
"We offer a high level of safety and our cost is low"
Reminding that the Generation 6 is an all electric aircraft, Pankowski said that "It uses 12 lift fans to take off and land vertically. Once it's in the air, it does transition to forward flight. We tilt the front six rotors forward as we turn the back six rotors off and we cruise around. We think that as a consumer, we offer a high level of safety and our cost is low."
"A lot of the safety comes from redundancy in the product, both in the batteries, the avionics systems. The 12 fans are for redundancy. If we lose any two fans, it can still fly. There is a large safety factor involved in building an aircraft this large for consumers." he shared.
"We are looking to help move people around the cities"
"We are looking to bring this to anybody. We really want to have anybody that would take an Uber or be able to take one of these." Pankowski revealed. "We want to make it cost effective. A lot of people cannot afford a helicopter. A lot of people will be able to afford an Uber or can afford an Uber now. We're looking to help move people around the city, from the city out to the airport, from a small airport to a large airport. We try and make it easier to get people around."
The advantages of Generation 6: It save people's time
"Inner city we're looking, we can utilize tops of buildings where a helicopter might have landed in the pass. So a helipad is a lot of people in the industry looking to add further ports. So creating these take off areas, a similar way to look at it now would be similar to like a bus stop where there's different bus stops around the city. You might have to walk to your nearest bus stop. It'll be something similar to that where someone has created a port that could be on top of a building, could be somewhere in the city, and someone could walk to that." he elaborated.
"One of the advantages to taking an autonomous aircraft is to be able to save people time. If you're trying to get from the city center out to the airport and you take a car, you fight traffic, and as soon as you hop into one of these, it's fully autonomous, without the pilot on board, it flies you out and it's a much quicker time as there is not traffic and sky." Pankowski concluded.