Airtaxi start-up Kittyhawk makes decision to shut company down

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.

Avatar photo

Jason Pritchard

Jason Pritchard is the Editor of eVTOL Insights. He holds a BA from Leicester's De Montfort University and has worked in Journalism and Public Relations for more than a decade. Outside of work, Jason enjoys playing and watching football and golf. He also has a keen interest in Ancient Egypt.

eVTOL Insights is part of the Industry Insights Group. Registered in the UK. Company No: 14395769