Google co-founder’s Kittyhawk eVTOL company is coming to an end
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) co-founder Larry Page’s Kittyhawk Company, which has been developing an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft since 2010, may be on the verge of shutting down.
“We have made the decision to end Kittyhawk,” the company announced on its Twitter account on Wednesday. “We are still working on the details of the sequel.”
We have made the decision to end Kittyhawk. We are still working on the details of the sequel.
— Kittyhawk (@kittyhawkcorp) September 21, 2022
Kittyhawk is just one of hundreds of companies formed over the past decade as part of a global movement to develop inexpensive, convenient, and emissions-free air travel over congested ground traffic.
It’s unclear exactly what Kittyhawk means by “calming down” – whether that means a significant reduction in development activity or, as the phrase suggests, a complete shutdown of operations. Kittyhawk did not immediately respond to FLYING request for additional comments. If Kittyhawk completely ends its independent aircraft development business, it won’t be the first eVTOL company to throw in the towel, and it won’t be the last.
News of Kittyhawk’s demise comes as another Page-linked eVTOL developer, Wisk Aero, prepares to unveil its new sixth-generation four-seat prototype for an autonomous air taxi. Kittyhawk is also an investor in Wisk, and Wisk commented on the situation on his Twitter account on Wednesday. “Today’s news has no impact on Wisk,” Wisk’s tweet said. “We remain in a strong financial position with Boeing and Kittyhawk as investors.”
— Wisk (@WiskAero) September 21, 2022
Although California-based Wisk is widely backed by Boeing (NYSE: BA), Kittyhawk’s Zee Aero Group was initially involved when it developed an autonomous eVTOL test article called Cora in 2018. A year later, Zee Aero eventually became Wisk after partnering with Boeing. .
Page – who founded Kittyhawk with self-driving car pioneer Sebastian Thrun – could end as part of a change in strategy in light of Wisk’s progress towards obtaining certification for its planes.
Kittyhawk has built and experimented with several eVTOL designs with various missions and capabilities.
One of Kittyhawk’s test items – dubbed Heaviside H2 – was designed as a remotely piloted, fully electric, single-seat eVTOL aircraft with tilting motors, canards and a large wing. It successfully flew over 100 sm on a single battery charge and reached a top speed of 180 mph, according to Kittyhawk. Heaviside H2 has been successful enough to gain support from the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s AFWERX Agility Prime program, aimed at accelerating advanced air mobility (AAM) technology.
Another Kittyhawk eVTOL design, called the Flyer, was an ultralight aircraft with water landing capabilities.
Unsurprisingly, the eVTOL sector is proving to be a difficult place to succeed. The Vertical Flight Society has more than 700 eVTOL concepts to date. Despite hundreds of concepts and companies in the game, only a handful actually pilot full-scale prototypes.
So far, none have achieved certification for their aircraft, although in California, Wisk, Archer Aviation (NYSE:ACHR) and Joby Aviation (NYSE:JOBY) appear to be leading the way, as well as Vermont’s Beta Technologies. , as well as Volocopter and Lilium (NASDAQ: LILM) in Europe.
It’s a safe bet that, for many different reasons, many more eVTOL developers will be left behind in the years to come as an emerging aviation industry struggles to define itself in a tough arena.