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eVTOL aircraft
Aurora Flight Sciences’ electric-powered, autonomous eVTOL aircraft is being developed for Uber. (Aurora Flight Sciences Photo)

Boeing says it has struck a deal to acquire Aurora Flight Sciences, a leader in the field of autonomous flight, to beef up its own capabilities on that frontier.

Aurora has been working with Uber on a new type of electric-powered autonomous aircraft that takes off and lands vertically. The Virginia-based company has reportedly worked with Google as well on that company’s hush-hush Project Skybender, which is aimed at developing high-altitude drones for long-duration flights.

Boeing, meanwhile, has been raising its profile in autonomous flight. It already owns Insitu, a company headquartered in Bingen, Wash., that specializes in unmanned aerial systems for military and civil applications. And this year, Boeing executives said they were moving forward with tests that could ultimately lead to self-flying planes.

“The combined strength and innovation of our teams will advance the development of autonomy for our commercial and military systems,” Greg Hyslop, chief technology officer and senior vice president of Boeing Engineering, Test & Technology, said today in a news release. “Together, these talented teams will open new markets with transformational technologies.”

Boeing said that it was not disclosing terms of the agreement, and that the deal would be subject to the customary regulatory approvals. It doesn’t expect the acquisition to have an effect on its financial guidance.

Once it’s acquired, Aurora will be a subsidiary under Boeing Engineering, Test & Technology. Boeing said it will retain an independent operating model while benefiting from its corporate parent’s resources and status.

Aurora is headquartered in Manassas, Va., and has more than 550 employees at facilities in six states plus Switzerland.

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