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Apple Loses a Top Car Hardware Engineer to Flying-Taxi Startup

One of Apple Inc.’s top managers working on its self-driving car project has left to join an aviation startup, marking the latest in a string of departures this year.

Michael Schwekutsch, who joined the Apple car project in 2019, has become a senior vice president of engineering at Archer Aviation Inc., which is focused on building flying taxis.

The startup confirmed the move on Wednesday, saying he came aboard last month.

“It’s a huge win that he chose to pick Archer,” said spokeswoman Louise Bristow.

 “We’re on the cusp of completing our first test flights. He’s joining us at a pivotal and exciting time for the company.”

At Apple, Schwekutsch helped oversee the hardware work for the company’s planned self-driving car.

His departure comes as the Cupertino, California-based technology giant tries to accelerate development of the project under new management: Apple Watch software chief Kevin Lynch.

Prior to Apple, Schwekutsch was a vice president of engineering at Tesla Inc. overseeing drive systems and other hardware components. CNBC previously reported on the move.

He became one of Apple’s top engineers focused on car hardware, and his exit leaves a hole in the project’s leadership ranks.