Next-generation aircraft manufacturer Wisk Aero is expanding its preparations for autonomous air taxi services beyond the US in cooperation with officials in Australia’s Queensland to bring advance air mobility (AAM) transport to the state.
The Boeing and Kitty Hawk affiliate said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with an association of municipalities in southeast Queensland to lay groundwork for emissions-free passenger aerial services. Under the agreement, Wisk will work closely with the Council of Mayors South East Queensland to usher in urban air taxi operation, as well as AAM options for green tourism transport along the state’s coast and to rural areas. As part of that initiative, the company will be establishing an Australia-based staff to interface with authorities and advance work on operational and regulatory issues.
The move into Queensland provides Wisk a springboard for its expansion plans across Australia, New Zealand, and the wider Asia-Pacific region. But it will initially focus on having autonomous air taxi networks in place and fully broken in ahead of the Brisbane Summer Olympics in 2032, during which AAM is expected to offer fast and sustainable alternatives to traditional road and helicopter transport.
Indeed, Brisbane Mayor Adrian Schrinner described the arrival of next-generation air capacities as reflecting one of the broader objectives of bringing the Games to the city in the first place.
“Council of Mayors kickstarted our Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games journey because we knew it would attract global businesses and innovative industries to our region, bringing with it new jobs and new economic opportunities,” Schrinner said. “On the back of the Brisbane 2032 Games, we’re delighted to be working with Wisk to look at how South East Queensland can capitalize off the new jobs and economic opportunities associated with this new and exciting industry.”
Though leading global air taxi aircraft developers are hoping to commence AAM services as early as 2024, Schrinner said the accord with Wisk doesn’t seek to bring those to Brisbane first. Instead, it prioritizes rolling those out in a way that will benefit southeastern Queensland before, during, and after Olympic period.
“We expect to see the emergence of advanced air technology in places like Paris and Los Angeles, and by 2032 I’d love to see it supporting new and innovative experiences for tourism and travel in South East Queensland,” he said.
As a preview to what that will involve, the company plans on displaying its fifth-generation aircraft in Brisbane in July. As work on introducing air taxi services there advances, Wisk will also begin striking out to prepare for AAM operations across the region.
“This new partnership is a great starting point for our expansion across Australasia,” said Catherine MacGowan, Wisk’s Asia Pacific regional director. “Our work has the potential to accelerate the introduction of emissions-free aviation, help reduce transport-driven carbon emissions, and realize the benefits of AAM for the Queensland state economy and the wellbeing of its citizens.”