Flying from the South Island into the future – without a pilot

South Island testing of autonomous air travel is being welcomed by Christchurch Airport.

California-based company Kitty Hawk, operating as Zephyr Airworks in New Zealand, has revealed it's testing the world's first self-piloted and electric air taxi.

The airport company has been in discussions with the American company for some time now, supporting its search for a suitable test space for the autonomous air taxi, known as Cora.

Christchurch Airport Chief Executive, Malcolm Johns, says innovation of new transport technology is actively being encouraged in the South Island.

"With New Zealand's internationally respected aviation certification processes, and the country's first on-road testing of a fully autonomous electric vehicle, the South Island is the obvious place to test Cora," he says.

"Christchurch Airport's growing reputation as a test bed for innovation, and in particular autonomy, is growing, because we combine the right physical environment for safe testing with understanding of technological advances."

Mr Johns says it is fitting that this part of the world hosts the trials of the electric self-piloting air taxi.

"Let's not forget this part of the world is where Richard Pearse first pioneered flying, something we honour with a sculpture within our airport terminal, so it's great to see this bold thinking being revealed here too," he says.

"We are sure aviation and technology enthusiasts, as well as people interested in seeing what the future can look like, will take a keen interest in Cora."

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