Both parties are hopeful that this will lead to a network of flying taxis in New Zealand within the next three years.
In an email, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden told The New York Times that Kitty Hawk's electric flying taxis could help the country achieve a goal of eliminating net carbon emissions by 2050. Kitty Hawk said it doesn't have a specific timeline for that.
Kitty Hawk, which launched in California, repeatedly praised New Zealand's "forward-thinking regulatory environment" and suggested it would have been impossible to launch Cora in the U.S. That's exactly what any company wants to hear.
The technology, eight years in the making, had been searching for its own Kitty Hawk, where it could test "an air taxi, affectionately named Cora, that could take off like a helicopter and transition to flying like a plane", according to the release. Once in the air, it uses a single propeller to fly like an airplane.
The aircraft, previously known as Zee.Aero, has a range of 100 kilometres (62 miles), reaching speeds of 150 kmh and an altitude of up to 900 metres (3,000 feet). There is also the capability for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) which looks like it can open transportation options ranging from commuter services to drone deliveries.
The US Federal Aviation Administration now lacks a certification basis to accept the airworthiness of such vehicles to transport fare-paying passengers. For those unfamiliar, Kitty Hawk is a startup that is reported to have been funded by Alphabet's Larry Page.
Page's involvement in Kitty Hawk was mostly secret until recently, thanks to a shell company called Zephyr Airworks. Boeing bought Aurora Flight Sciences, Airbus made an investment in Blade, and Uber is already working on the same idea with Uber Elevate. The rather diminutive craft has room for just a couple of people on board and has been seen in the skies over New Zealand doing tests in recent months.
It has been clear for several years that improvements in batteries, electric motors, and software would make it possible to build a vehicle like this.
Developers of the flying taxis say that they're much quieter than helicopters.