Australia-based air taxi infrastructure company Skyportz is to release a concept for an Australian waterfront e-mobility hub at the World Air Taxi Congress in San Francisco, along with Contreras Earl Architecture and Pascall+Watson Architects.
The proposal will replace an existing heliport on the Yarra River in Melbourne with a new purpose built vertiport to accommodate the introduction of clean, quiet, electric air taxis. Under this plan, the site would also be a multi-modal hub for electric scooters, bikes, ferries and hire boats. A cafe would provide an area for people to view the action.
“We have been developing designs and concepts for vertiports for five years, and we keep coming back to waterfront sites being the most practical to retrofit cities for advanced air mobility. The reality is that waterfront sites provide the safest access for electric air taxis in terms of aviation requirements for clear approach and departure paths,” says CEO Clem Newton-Brown. “Waterfront sites are also likely to be one of the few places where land can be found to accommodate terminals, and there is also the option for floating landing pads.”
“Paris has five vertiports proposed for the Olympics next year," he continues. "They will be primarily using existing airports and helipads. The one new vertiport they have chosen is to be on the river. This aligns with our thinking that when cities need to actually choose vertiport locations, the lowest hanging fruit will be the waterfront locations.
“We are really excited to have developed this concept in conjunction with Contreras Earl Architecture and Pascall+Watson Architects, and it has great potential to be rolled out in waterfront cities around the world.”
“This landmark building is the result of addressing many different important parameters, including sustainability, context, climate, community and the user experience," says Rafael Contreras, a director of Contreras Earl Architecture. "The vertiport will feature a high-performance roof designed to be structurally robust, lightweight and sustainable owing to its aluminium monocoque structure; the same system employed in the manufacturing of cars and aircraft.
"By embracing the latest technology, we are liberated from traditional building practices and forms, and are free to explore more forward-thinking ideas. Melbourne is ahead by having two vertiports designed in its city. We are proud to be part of the implementation of this new technology and what it means for the future of Melbourne and clean, green travel.”
“Advanced air mobility presents a real opportunity to enhance our major cities with regards to both improved liveability and connectivity," adds Martin Neilan, aviation director, Pascall+Watson Architects. "The Melbourne vertiport utilises existing helicopter permissions to offer a quiet, zero-pollution solution that gets its users quickly and quietly to and from a range of metropolitan destinations. It forms an ideal complement to the city's Greenline Masterplan objectives in achieving both an environmentally and commercially revitalised Yarra frontage with drastically improved pedestrian access. What better way to show-case the spectacle of future flight than in replacing a central city helicopter service in this prominent location with a wonderful new, environmentally sensitive AAM facility for Melburnians.”
The Victorian State Government's recently released AAM Action Plan will remove barriers to industry development and support new investment into the State. It will prepare Victoria's economy to benefit from the range of new clean energy industries, technology and jobs through investment that unlocks zero-emission capabilities across logistics, service delivery, emergency services, regional connectivity and passenger transport.
Microflite, the existing operator of the Melbourne heliport at Batman Park, has plans to transform its fleet of traditional helicopters with electric aircraft and has placed orders that are expected to be delivered within the next five years.
“There is no doubt that helicopters will soon be phased out in tourism and short commuter flights, and Microflite wants to lead the way in decarbonising aviation as soon as electric aircraft are certified for commercial use,” says COO Rod Higgins. “Of the many thousands of passengers and tourists that Microflite flies from its Melbourne heliport each year, an increasing number are asking when the aviation industry will be progressing to sustainable operations.”
“The key to this industry is breaking the nexus between aviation and existing airports. We need to develop a network of new vertiport sites if the industry is to reach its potential and we see the greatest potential in waterfront locations,” says Newton-Brown.