Electric aircraft developer Kittyhawk – the company led by Sebastian Thrun and which also received backing from Google co-founder Larry Page – has announced that it is to wind down operations.
The news broke late yesterday (Wednesday) after a short statement on Kittyhawk’s Twitter and LinkedIn pages read: “We have made the decision to wind down Kittyhawk. We’re still working on the details of what’s next.”
While it’s unclear at the moment what those next steps will be, plenty of those in the industry have been quick to praise the ‘inspirational work’ Kittyhawk did for the Urban Air Mobility community.
Founded in 2010 and based in California, Kittyhawk has developed numerous eVTOL vehicles planned for air taxi services and personal air transportation. They include the Heaviside vehicle, which is named after English engineer Oliver Heaviside, the Kittyhawk Cora line, the Kittyhawk Flyer, and the Flyer prototype.
Kittyhawk also founded the joint venture Wisk with Boeing in 2019 and in 2020, announced it was winding down its personal Flyer eVTOL project to ‘double down’ on Heaviside.
After nearly a decade of development on its Heaviside aircraft, it became the first one of its kind to take part in a medical evacuation exercise with the US Air Force earlier this year.
Kittyhawk was awarded airworthiness approval by the US Air Force, which allowed Heaviside to enter its next phase of flight testing under air force direction. At the end of 2021, Heaviside was also used by the US Government in what was the first remotely piloted flight of an eVTOL aircraft.
Capt. Terrence McKenna, an Air Force Reserve pilot with the 370th Flight Test Squadron and the Test and Experimentation Lead for AFWERX Agility Prime, participated in remote pilot in control (rPIC) training on the Heaviside aircraft at the Kitty Hawk Corporation’s facility in Palo Alto, California.
The training culminated in the first government remote piloted flight of an eVTOL aircraft when he successfully flew the Heaviside via the Buddy Box System. This first Airman flight demonstrated another key milestone in the collaboration.
eVTOL Insights has approached Kittyhawk for further comments.