In a year-end report, Kitty Hawk Corporation provided an update on the two-seat Cora eVTOL aircraft first unveiled in March 2018, which is now undergoing autonomous flight-testing in California and New Zealand.
Founded in March 2010 as Zee.aero by Stanford professor Ilan Kroo, the company developed proof of concept (POC) eVTOL aircraft in secret for seven years before publically unveiling the Flyer prototype in 2017 and the 12-propeller fixed-wing Cora air taxi a year later.
During 2018, the Cora fleet surpassed 700 unmanned flights, new aircraft were added to the flight test fleet and a ballistic parachute system tested for the first time.
Cora is designed to operate at altitudes between 500 ft to 3000 ft above ground, cruise at about 100 mph 180 km/h and have an initial range of 62 miles or about 100 km.
There are now four Cora registered with the FAA (as the Kitty Hawk Mule SPA), including serial no. 005 (N305XZ) registered in September 2018 and serial no. 006 (N306XZ) registered in late November 2018 as a Mule SPA-Alpha model. Features of the “Alpha” version have not been revealed.
In December 2016, Kitty Hawk established Zephyr Airworks to development Cora and the air taxi concept in New Zealand. The first aircraft (serial 002, ZK-UZA, ex-N302XZ) was shipped to New Zealand and began testing soon afterwards at a private airport near Christchurch on the South Island.
Zephyr imported a second Cora eVTOL (serial 004, ZK-UZB) in September 2018, completed a hangar in the summer, and signed an agreement with Air New Zealand to explore the development and design of an electric, autonomous air taxi service, using Cora.
The ultralight Kitty Hawk Flyer does not require an FAA N-number if it has an empty weight of less than 254 pounds. However, Flyer serial no. 26003 was allocated the registration N333FL in November, possibly under an experimental airworthiness certificate.
Kitty Hawk is believed to be secretly developing other electric aircraft, such as the Heaviside N220HV (serial 001) which was first registered as a fixed-wing aircraft in January 2018. The first Heaviside was cancelled from the FAA civil aircraft register in September 2018 but two new Heaviside 2 models were registered in November as N220HV (serial no. H2-001) and N222HV (serial H2-002). Some analysts are speculating that the Heaviside may be the unknown aircraft that was spotted at Palmdale, California’s US Air Force Plant 42 Airport in October 2018.
More recently, Kitty Hawk reserved 50 FAA registrations for future electric-powered aircraft, including five registrations ending in “XZ” (presumably for new Cora aircraft, which likely originally stood for “experimental Zee” aircraft) and 45 registrations ending “FL” (presumably for new “Flyer” ultralights), now that the ultralight Flyer is operational.
In 2019, Kitty Hawk plans to open a software development center in Atlanta, Georgia.