Boeing is investing an additional $ 450 million to launch airliners

Boeing is investing another $ 450 million in an existing joint venture focused on developing air taxis in the wake of the investor’s appetite for a nascent industry in which dozens of startups have raised billions of dollars in the past year.

The US-based aircraft maker has said it will invest more in California-based Wisk Aero, its joint venture with Kitty Hawk, another electric aviation startup backed by Google co-founder Larry Page.

Wisk differs from most electric air taxi companies in that it focuses on autonomous flight. The company did not specify a date of operation, but said its autonomous passenger vehicle would be the first to be certified in the United States.

“Autonomy is the key to unlocking scale in all advanced air mobility applications, from passengers to cargo and beyond. That’s why direct autonomy is a fundamental first principle, “said Mark Allen, Boeing’s chief strategic officer.

Rival aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Embraer, along with a number of start-ups, are developing their own electric air taxis. This is one of the hottest markets, although most startups do not yet have a flying prototype that can carry passengers.

Last year, investors invested more than $ 7 billion in companies focused on all sorts of future air mobility solutions, according to a McKinsey analysis, more than doubling funding in the sector over the past 10 years. Total funding has reached $ 12.7 billion since 2010.

The industry has also announced more than 7,500 orders and options for all types of electric aircraft as well as propulsion systems, totaling $ 30 billion, although many are non-binding or subject to specific deadlines and performance.

Nearly half of the $ 7.01 billion raised in 2021, 48 percent, was raised as part of mergers through special purpose vehicles or Spacs, according to McKinsey. Spacs list the stock markets and then go hunting for a target company to merge with.

Shares of several of the companies that were listed on the New York Stock Exchange last year are trading well below their initial floating price as investor abundance declined.

Robin Riedel, a McKinsey partner who heads the future of the Air Mobility Advisory Group, said after last year’s “massive capital inflow” that he expects companies to spend this year focusing on adjusting their prototype projects and starting to build chains for delivery.

“We will see that some of the players need to reconsider their goals. Some have very aggressive timelines. However, the future of mobility is at its core, “he added.

The fact that officials, including airlines and other operators, have been involved in some of the financing deals “suggests that they are serious about it”.

Two of the biggest external challenges for the industry are infrastructure development as well as certification by aviation safety regulators. The EU Aviation Safety Agency said last year that it expects the first commercial manned air taxis to be introduced in 2024-2024.

Apart from putting the plane on the market, Riedel said, the biggest challenge would be “who can build a profitable business”.

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