Skyportz has released its design for a vertiport, the first in Australia to service the emerging electric air taxi industry, at the AAUS annual Advanced Air Mobility summit in Melbourne. The vertiport will be located at Caribbean Park in Victoria, the fastest growing business precinct outside of the Melbourne central business district.
Caribbean Park and Skyportz have worked with Contreras Earl Architects, aviation consultancy to70, civil engineers Arup and helicopter operator Microflite to come up with a practical, modular design to satisfy the operational requirements for operating as a vertiport in the AAM sector.
“With the development of a vertiport in a business park we are breaking the nexus between aviation and airports. For this industry to succeed it needs to have policy makers pushing the envelope to support new 'mini airports' in locations people want to go,” says Skyportz CEO Clem Newton-Brown. “However, community support is going to be the key to the development of these services. The community is going to have to see the benefits. Electric air taxis will be a new era in aviation where clean, green and quiet small aircraft can take people to places they want to go, be it work or leisure. The Caribbean Park vertiport is the first in a network of sites we will establish in advance of the aircraft becoming operational.”
CASA, the Australian federal regulator, recently released a roadmap for the introduction of advanced air mobility to Australia and various states are also trying to attract the investment that will flow from leading this new aviation industry.
It is anticipated that some eVTOL aircraft will be commercially certified to take passengers by 2024. There are over 300 designs in development, and the frontrunners are already flying prototypes. In February 2022, Microflite ordered up to 40 eVTOL aircraft from Eve Urban Air Mobility for deployment in 2026. The two companies are using helicopters as a proof of concept to validate parameters that will apply to future eVTOL operations, and have identified a network of potential routes on which to trial selected operations.
“Caribbean Park has been used for helicopter transfers for many years. As a major operator throughout Victoria we are acutely aware of the existing demand for flights from the southeast of Melbourne. We are looking forward to utilising this facility and the broader Skyportz network as our operations morph into electric aircraft, enabling us to create new destinations and services for the community,” says Microflite COO Rodney Higgins.
Skyportz will be seeking investment partners to fund the construction of the vertiport at Caribbean Park, which will be the first in a stable of vertiports strategically located around Australia.
“We are strategically and ideally placed to host the first Skyportz in Australia, and we hope that in time, a variety of new and emerging businesses take advantage of this leading infrastructure. Caribbean Park is the largest and fastest growing business precinct outside the Melbourne CBD, and we are focused on building a model, suburban workplace of the future,” says Caribbean Park managing director Ben Spooner.
“Not all sites will be suitable for vertiports as an urban environment presents all sorts of challenges for aviation. The Caribbean Park site is perfectly situated on a very large open site with good access and a manageable obstacle environment that allows into wind approaches and departures from multiple directions,” adds to70 senior aviation consultant Phil Owen.
“Vertiports need to be designed to be flexible for the many potential futures that AAM can bring. The facilities also incorporate many elements that will be found in a modern airport terminal as well as other considerations that are emerging in this industry. Passenger experience, baggage handling, security screening, fire engineering, battery charging infrastructure, transport network planning and acoustic/environmental impacts are all examples of what needs to be incorporated into vertiport designs,” says Arup aviation skills leader Ronan Delaney.
"We are proud to have designed Australia's first vertiport, a beautiful, sculptural, ground-breaking terminal that contributes to the evolution of architecture and to the future of our communities and cities. We founded Contreras Earl Architecture to design original, inventive buildings like Skyportz, as we believe architecture and technology should evolve together. Using advanced technology, we developed an efficient modular design made with recyclable aluminium. The system is lightweight, prefabricated and assembled on site, so that it can be adapted and configured for a broad range of settings and scaled for mass production," says director Rafael Contreras.