Boeing’s $450 million investment in the electric vertical take-off and landing developer Wisk has always been a bit of a head-scratcher. The dissimilarity between Boeing’s core commercial business of building multi-million-dollar jetliners and Wisk’s ambitions in the highly speculative urban air mobility market led many industry observers,including The Air Current, to conclude that Boeing’s real interest in Wisk lay in advancing the development of autonomous technologies for the benefit of a future Boeing airplane.
Now that Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun has confirmed thatthis is in fact the case, a whole new set of questions arises around what, exactly, Boeing is thinking.
Wisk has projected that within five years of certification, its self-flying air taxis will be performing 14 million flights per year, which translates to 38,000 flights per day, 26 flights per minute, or one departure every 2.3 seconds (for context, a 737 takes off every 1.5 seconds). However, Calhoun appeared to discount that potential at Boeing’s Investor Day on Nov. 2, describing UAM as “a discrete small market [that’s] not going to move the needle a whole bunch.”
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