Skyportz, a Melbourne, Australia-based startup that is developing the foundations of an air taxi network, has partnered with Secure Parking—a car parking provider—to add 400 landing bases for electric air taxis. The first landing bases, or “drone ports,” will likely be established in cities within Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales in order to promote advanced air mobility throughout Australia.
In a recent interview, Skyportz CEO Clem Newton-Brown told Avionics International that the partnership with Secure Parking opens up numerous options for drone ports at new sites, particularly as Skyportz works to change some government policies in order to activate operations. “The key to an air taxi network,” wrote Newton-Brown, “is access to a multitude of landing sites.” He also shared that the company plans to open up to potential regional franchises throughout the world in the near future.
The project to establish an air taxi network has been underway for three years. CEO Clem Newton-Brown expects that the company will soon be able to offer an efficient path to commercial activation.
As far as the timeline for setting up the landing bases, it depends on a State-based planning approval process to ensure alignment with regulatory requirements. “When an OEM chooses a launch city, there are years of work required to first get the policy and regulatory changes required and then to source the property partnerships,” commented Newton-Brown. “Our Federal government has committed $30M to advance the industry, and we are partnering with several OEMs to develop concepts of operations in Australia, hopefully with the support of this fund.”
Skyportz recently signed an agreement with Electra.Aero to purchase electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft which can be used in applications within Australia such as connecting regional areas. Additional purchase agreements for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircrafts are expected to be finalized soon. Newton-Brown explained that eVTOLs are better suited for transportation in urban areas due to the ability to land in a smaller space.
Electra.Aero's electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft may be used by Skyportz to connect regional areas in Australia rather than offering urban air transportation. (Photo: Electra.Aero)
Regarding the company’s outlook for 2022 and beyond, the CEO stated: “We have been working at this for three years already. While there is still some way to go to be able to activate the sites, we expect to be able to offer a quick route to commercial activation.” Australia was selected by Google’s Wing delivery service because of the positive regulatory environment as well as support from the community support. These aspects, said Newton-Brown, also apply to air taxi trials. “Our goal is to attract the frontrunners to commit to Australia by offering a readymade Skyportz network.”