Brisbane is set to have an eVTOL air taxi hub by 2023 under plans announced by ground infrastructure developer Skyportz. Addressing the Air Taxi World Congress on October 12, the company’s CEO, Clem Newton-Brown, said the facility at the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Centre of Excellence (AAMCE) will be the first operating base in a network that could extend eventually to 400 sites in major cities also including Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide.
Initially, Skyportz is focusing its efforts on locations where it can get the planned facilities approved under existing helipad regulations for helicopter operations. The Melbourne-based company is working with federal and state authorities to develop regulations that are more specific to eVTOL aircraft, while making its planned facilities available for existing helicopter operations.
“Skyportz has been accumulating sites in Australia since 2018 and we now have over 400 property partners ready to build out a network,” Newton-Brown said. “There is strong political support to develop a new era in clean, green electric aviation in Australia. However, we are waiting on federal standards and new state regulations to be developed before we can proceed to build a network.”
Since plans were already in place to develop a helipad at the AAMCE site, Skyportz decided to prioritize the development of what it refers to as a "mini-airport." The facility is in Brisbane’s Moreton Bay district, just north of the city’s central business district.
Skyportz intends to develop eVTOL bases according to a patented template that the company intends to export to sites in other countries. It recently partnered with U.S.-based eSTOL aircraft developer Electra Aero.
“To us, it makes perfect sense that the most advanced manufacturing center in Australia should include the most advanced transport system possible in its design,” said AAMCE director Ty Hermans. He predicted that Brisbane will have an established electric air taxi service by 2032, when the city will host the Olympic Games.
The AAMCE site is just a few yards from a train station that is part of the east coast city’s public transportation network. It is also close to the University of the Sunshine Coast, the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Hub, and the Indigenous Defence and Infrastructure Consortium.