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Air New Zealand Has Partnered with Zephyr Airworks to Bring Flying Taxis to New Zealand

The world's first autonomous aircraft could be operating in six years.
By Stephen Heard
October 16, 2018
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Air New Zealand Has Partnered with Zephyr Airworks to Bring Flying Taxis to New Zealand

The world's first autonomous aircraft could be operating in six years.
By Stephen Heard
October 16, 2018
  shares

Following news that Google co-founder Larry Page has been testing autonomous airborne vehicles in the South Island, Air New Zealand today announced a partnership with local operator Zephyr Airworks to bring the world's first flying taxis to New Zealand.

With his company Kitty Hawk, Page has been running covert flights of his Cora aircraft since last October — clocking up more than 700 flying hours between Canterbury and the US. It was last reported that the vehicles, which take off like a helicopter and fly like a plane, could be six years from launching as part of a commercial network in New Zealand.

The agreement between Air New Zealand and Zephyr Airworks signals the start of a long-term relationship to make autonomous, electric air travel a reality for all New Zealanders. Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the airline is committed to embracing new technologies that make life easier, to "free people from the constraints of traffic and its associated social, economic and environmental impacts."

Page's personally financed company has taken eight years to get to this point. The drone-plane hybrid has a wingspan of 36 feet with 12 rotors all powered by batteries. The hope is to have an aircraft so personal and so simple that it could bring everyday trips to the sky. "Cora has the potential to transform spaces like rooftops and parking lots into places to take off right from your neighbourhood." says Kitty Hawk. It can fly at 177 kilometres per hour and around 100 kilometres with two passengers.

Zephyr Airworks Chief Executive Fred Reid says the company is delighted to be fostering a close relationship with the airline. "One day, everyday people across the globe will be able to use Cora to bring flight into their lives. While we are not at that point yet, we are showing people what is possible. That is why we are excited to be drawing on Air New Zealand's wealth of operational expertise in the New Zealand market."

Image: Richard Lord, Kitty Hawk.

Published on October 16, 2018 by Stephen Heard

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