July 15, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Flying Taxis | Boeing subsidiary gains altitude in Quebec

Flying Taxis |  Boeing subsidiary gains altitude in Quebec

Quebec is one of the few places in the world to have approved new aircraft in recent years. Whisk Aero, a young company created by Google co-founder Larry Page, has been lured to set up there to continue designing its electric flying taxi prototype.


Without fanfare, Wisk, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boeing since last year, landed in Laval, north of Montreal, in August 2022. The Californian company's Quebec office, located a stone's throw from Carrefour Laval, has grown rapidly and is not. More than that.

“We want to double our footprint,” explained Sebastien Vigneron, senior vice president of engineering and programs, in an interview. Press. “It's really strategic for us. »

A former Bombardier employee said this means that in the short term, Wisk aims to double its number of engineers — the company has about 45 — and expand its physical footprint to about 5,000 square feet (465 square meters) in the province. On its website, about 20 full-time positions are currently posted in Laval.

The young company's Quebec branch inherited responsibility for designing everything that revolved around the electric flight controls of the sixth generation of the whisk working prototype. These include software and avionics – essentially the nervous system of the device.

A number of projects have been announced in the electric mobility niche in Quebec – Zant Air and VPorts – and in other parts of the world. Wisk is progressing well. The goal is to “fly” in 2024, said the senior vice president of engineering and programs. These flight tests will take place in the United States, more precisely in Mountain View, California, where the company is headquartered – which is also located in New Zealand.

Wisk already has 700 employees worldwide.

Special skill

Many engineers have been hired at Bombardier over the past decade to validate programs such as the CSeries, which was controlled by Airbus in 2015 as well as the Global 7500 private jet (2018) and renamed the A220. Wisk wants to take advantage of this skill.

Mr. Vigneron is good to talk to because he worked on both of these projects himself.

Photo from WISK website

Sebastien Vigneron is Senior Vice President of Engineering and Programs at Wisk.

That's why the Montreal area is interesting. I've worked in both programs, so I've experienced the whole cycle with Transport Canada. I won't lie to you, getting a flight certified is not easy. It is a process that goes through many steps. There are many skills here.

Sebastien Vigneron is senior vice president of engineering and programs at Wisk

Certification of an aircraft involves a series of tests on various components of the aircraft, including systems. A flight test phase – a crucial step – is also part of the process. Wisk wants to certify its flying taxi in the United States first. A stamp of approval from the regulatory authorities provides authorization to fly and carry passengers.

Boeing's subsidiary Wisk, at the heart of a storm to oust its big boss at the end of the year following incidents on a plane that raised safety concerns, has not been merged into the American giant. Mr. Vigneron is well aware of the delicate situation in which a whiskey owner finds himself. He tries to look on the bright side of things.

“This reinforces our concern for everything related to security,” he said. That [la situation de Boeing] Doesn't change our relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration [le pendant américain de Transports Canada]. »

Whisk prototype in brief

  • Cruising altitude: 2500 to 4000 feet (760 to 1220 meters)
  • Distance between wings: less than 50 feet (15 meters)
  • Range before recharging: 150 kilometers
  • Cruising speed: 200 to 220 km/hr

Learn more

  • 450 million US
    2022 Financing provided by Boeing

    Source: Wisk Aero

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