Kitty Hawk Cora Selects New Zealand

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For the last eight years, California-based Kitty Hawk has been engineering one of the most innovative pieces of technology to date, the Cora. Cora is an air taxi that combines electric power, self-piloting software and vertical take-off to pioneer an entirely new way to fly. This system is the first step towards everyday flight, where air travel will be woven into our daily lives. But it isn’t just about flying; it’s also about people and mobility. Cora provides a faster and easier way to travel, without the expense of the planet.

What Makes Cora Different? Access, ease, and sustainability. It uses self-flying software combined with human oversight to make flying possible for people without training and is powered by the same kind of technology in electric cars. But just like a car or an airplane, there are some risks, and safety is of the utmost importance. Some of Cora’s key safety features include independent rotors, a triple redundant flight-computer, and a backup parachute (just in case).

The Next Step

Once out of R&D, Kitty Hawk was eager to introduce Cora to the world but needed to find the perfect place to do so. They needed “a place that could be more than just a willing airfield. That had a world-class reputation in certification and regulation. And a government and society with an eye to the horizon. Whose people could be the first to experience the benefits of what we had come to call everyday flight. A true partner.” They needed Richard Pearse’s New Zealand.

New Zealand has been recognized for its safety-focused regulatory environment and a strong history of excellence in airspace management, making it the ideal candidate. As it turned out, New Zealand was also on a quest. They had already built one of the world’s most sustainable energy ecosystems –– with 80% of the country powered by renewable energy. And now they were looking to harness the benefits of the electric mobility revolution. So when the dreamers from California met the visionaries from New Zealand, it was the perfect match.

Dr. Peter Crabtree, stated, “In New Zealand, we know we can’t keep using the same old approaches to meet our future challenges. We saw Cora’s potential as a sustainable, efficient and transformative technology that can enrich people’s lives, not only in New Zealand, but ultimately the whole world.”

Kitty Hawk established Zephyr Airworks, in December 2016 to work with the government, businesses and local communities.

Fred Reid, Zephyr CEO, remembers the moment, “We had no idea what to expect. They could have laughed us out of the room. We were pitching something that sounded like science fiction.”

In October 2017, the company shipped the first air taxi to New Zealand and began testing. While Kitty Hawk is not putting timeframes around Cora’s availability, the company has stated that it will not be available for consumer sale. It will be available as part of a service similar to an airline or a rideshare.

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