Aviation business Microflite and electric air taxi infrastructure start up Skyportz announced a partnership on August 30th to lay foundations for expanded air taxi infrastructure in Australia. Microflite operates Australia’s largest fleet of helicopters, servicing various sectors including tourism, charter, search and rescue, firefighting and pilot training.
Skyportz is working with property owners to establish the landing infrastructure required for the introduction of electric air taxis. Both Microflite and Skyportz plan to work with all new electric aircraft as they move through certification. Rod Higgins, General Manager of Microflite said, “Microflite operates a range of different aircraft and we intend to be at the forefront of the industry as it morphs into cleaner and quieter electric propulsion. We can forsee that many of our tourist operations will be very well suited to electric aviation”. “With quieter operations we believe there will be opportunities to operate from the new range of landing sites that Skyportz is assembling”. “The Skyportz partnership will enable us to rapidly grow our tourism business to new destinations. We will be able to take on new electric aircraft into our fleet as soon as they are available to operate on the Skyportz network”, Mr Higgins said.
Clem Newton-Brown, CEO and founder of Skyportz has been working on the critical landing infrastructure component to enable Advanced Air Mobility for some years. He is Chair of the Advanced Air Mobility working group of the Australian Association for Unmanned Systems and serves on the NASA working group and a Federal committee investigating new and emerging aviation technologies. “There is no doubt we are headed for a revolution in micro-aviation. The aircraft are coming and there is support at a Federal and State level for Australia to be a world leader in Advanced Air Mobility”’ Mr Newton-Brown said.
“It is not going to be the technology which holds up the advance of electric air taxis and freight drones. It is having enough pilots and places to land which will be the impediment which will limit the potential for Advanced Air Mobility” “Microflite and Skyportz are focusing on these bottlenecks and creating the ecosystem which will attract aircraft manufacturers that want to enter the Australian market” he said. Microflite and Skyportz are already assisting various air taxi start ups in establishing concepts of operations in Australia for their aircraft and they look forward to helping them to get established utilizing their infrastructure and support.
The first air taxi summit in Australia commences in Melbourne this week and has attracted global players in this emerging industry.
Why it’s important: While aircraft manufacturing partnerships are becoming increasingly common between OEM’s and companies with direct-aviation related products, partnerships that focus on infrastructure pairings are few and far between. Real estate equity groups and those familiar with aviation operations such as on-demand helicopter and aircraft charter service BLADE UAM in the United States are well poised to succeed in offering large networks of vertiports across nations (and even continents). Whether those networks will be open source or privatized for paid use by owners and/or operators remains to be seen, and is a key component of understanding the mechanics of future on-demand air taxi operations.
Sources // Microflite; Skyportz