Wisk Aero, a California developer of autonomous air taxis, has announced the retirement of CEO Gary Gysin, who will be replaced by company board member and Boeing veteran Brian Yutko effective February 1.
Gysin has piloted Wisk since its creation in 2019 as an air taxi company through a joint venture between Boeing and Kitty Hawk. During that time, Gysin was credited with having overseen all aspects in the development of the firm’s four-seat craft – from its initial concept to the sixth-generation prototype now advancing through the certification process. Gysin was also involved in deepening Wisk’s relationship with Boeing – including the latter’s additional $450 million capital infusion a year ago to help propel the bright yellow plane toward production and service launch.
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Those personal and corporate links will be prolonged with Yutko stepping in as CEO. His current post is with Boeing as its vice president and chief engineer of sustainability and future mobility, and he also commands intimate knowledge of Wisk from his work as a board member.
“To date, Brian has already been instrumental to Wisk’s success – from helping to secure additional resources for Wisk from within Boeing, to championing the Concept of Operations, developed by the two companies,” said chairman of Wisk’s board, Brian Schettler, in announcing the hand-over. “Brian’s deep expertise in aviation and passion for autonomy, as well as his existing familiarity with Wisk, will enable a smooth transition and allow Wisk to maintain its development timelines and trajectory within the industry with minimal disruption.”
The timing of the move may strike some observers as surprising, given Wisk’s nearing objective of obtaining certification of its craft by 2024 or 2025, and launching air taxi services shortly after. Seen from one angle, Gysin’s departure appears to come just as the company nears the home stretch in a long and arduous development effort.
But stepping back has apparently been on Gysin’s mind for some time. He revealed his decision to retire to fellow executives last summer, evidently ready to wind up a long career that began in information technology, then transitioned to robotics, aviation, and finally next-generation electric takeoff and landing plane development.
“After nearly four decades of a career at the forefront of technology and autonomy, I’ve made the difficult decision to retire,” said Gysin. “Leading Wisk has been one of the most rewarding roles of my career and I’m honored to have helped lay the foundation for both the company and the future of mobility. Wisk is an incredibly unique and rare place, with passionate and smart people at all levels and the resources to make it across the finish line. I’m very excited to continue watching Wisk succeed under the strong leadership of Brian Yutko.”
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With Gysin’s departure, Wisk becomes the fourth company working to produce air taxis to undergo top leadership changes as the drive for aircraft certification kicks into high gear.
Last June, German eVTOL manufacturer Lilium swapped CEOs by bringing in a veteran recruit from Airbus, mirroring a similar move made in March by compatriot company Volocopter. In between those, Wisk’s San Francisco Bay Area competitor (and business and courtroom nemesis) Archer announced one of its cofounders and co-CEOs had left the company following an apparent disagreement in business development strategies.