Self-flying aircraft could soon land in Sugar Land, offering an electric "air taxi service" for passengers to travel across the Houston area.

In a nutshell

Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman and City Manager Michael Goodrum announced the city’s partnership with Wisk Aero, an autonomous aircraft company, at Sugar Land’s State of the City event on Feb. 23, hosted by the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce.

“We are reimagining what mobility looks like in Sugar Land through a micro-transit pilot program,” Goodrum said.

The details

The California-based Advanced Air Mobility company, or AAM, will develop infrastructure at the Sugar Land Regional Airport to operate self-flying airplanes, according to a Feb. 21 news release on the Wisk Aero website. The Sugar Land Regional Airport is a private, corporate airport off Hwy. 6.

Wisk staff will pilot the uncrewed airplanes from the ground, taking passengers to various Houston-area locations.

“Think of it like an Uber or Lyft that’s customized specifically for Sugar Land, meaning higher accessibility and lower wait times to get to locations within our city,” Zimmerman said.
Wisk Aero is a California-based Advanced Air Mobility company. (Courtesy Wisk Aero)
Wisk Aero is a California-based Advanced Air Mobility company. (Courtesy Wisk Aero)
Zooming out

Sugar Land is the first local entity Wisk is partnering with in the Houston area, Goodrum said in an interview. However, the company has plans to create a network of roughly 28 ports in the region, providing more destinations for passengers.

With the partnership, Wisk and the city of Sugar Land will work to connect the city to maintenance and training facilities across the Houston area, located at places such as Downtown Houston or the Houston Airport System, according to the release.

“The easiest places to initially locate are airports, because you already have restricted airspace," Goodrum said. "If you can get from Sugar Land to [George Bush Intercontinental Airport] in 10-15 minutes, that’s going to be a great thing. Especially with the [FIFA] World Cup coming in 2026, if you could fly into our airport and then hop on an autonomous electric taxi to get to where you need to go, that would be a great deal.”

In their own words

Wisk CEO Brian Yutko said in the news release that the company aims to service the Houston area’s growing population.

“Sugar Land’s strategic location within the Greater Houston region, and its forward-thinking city leadership, make it an ideal partner for us and one that is uniquely positioned as an early leader in the launch of air taxi services,” he said. “We look forward to working with Sugar Land, local ecosystem stakeholders, and the FAA on both ground and air infrastructure, as we bring autonomous air taxi services to the Greater Houston region.”

In an interview, Zimmerman said this is another way for the city to address mobility and traffic concerns.

"If we can improve people's lives through a more efficient way of transportation, even if it's in the air, it only makes sense," he said.

Next steps

Goodrum said officials at Wisk hope to get its sixth generation airplane model certified by the Federal Aviation Administration this year. He said city staff decided to partner with Wisk because they wanted the city to be part of the autonomous growth happening, such as with self-driving cars and drone deliveries.

“It’s really looking like it’s the future, so we want to be a part of that and be on the forefront of it,” he said.