Skyportz unveils designs for Brisbane riverside vertiport as CASA backs the emerging sector

Skyportz unveils designs for Brisbane riverside vertiport as CASA backs the emerging sector

Skyportz's concept design for Brisbane's riverside vertiport

Australian vertiport developer Skyportz has revealed concept plans for a riverside vertiport in Brisbane’s CBD as the national air safety regulator this week released new guidelines that the company anticipates will facilitate “advanced air mobility” in Australia.

Skyportz CEO and founder Clem Newton-Brown says that with the Olympics slated for 2032, Brisbane and the South-East Queensland region are shaping up as a prime launch market for air taxis.

“At Skyportz we believe that the lowest hanging fruit for retrofitting vertiports into urban areas are natural aviation corridors such as rivers,” says Newton-Brown.

“While there are a small number of cities around the world that have developed rooftop helipads, they are not the easiest places to safely land aircraft. There are usually better options, particularly in waterfront cities.”

While commercial services using electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles have yet to become a reality in Australia, the Melbourne-based Skyportz has been working with property owners over the past five years to secure potential sites for vertiports.

Skyportz launched the concept plans for the Brisbane vertiport at the Advanced Air Mobility Summit currently under way on the Gold Coast.

The annual summit this year gained fresh impetus following the release this week by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) of new guidelines covering the development of vertiports to support the safe and efficient operation of VTOL-capable aircraft (VCA) operating with a pilot on board.

The vertiport designs revealed by Skyportz are the products of a collaboration between Gold Coast-based design firm Contreras Earl Architecture and UK firms Pascall+Watson and Minmud.

Skyportz also has been working with former Australian Scientist of the Year Abdulghani Mohamed on wind and turbulence modelling in cities and trialling specific sites.

“We keep coming back to waterfront locations as being the safest and most logical place to install new vertiports in large cities when it comes to turbulence”, says Newton-Brown.

The Skyportz founder says waterfront vertiports generally are the most readily accessible sites in urban locations, offering government leases and clear approach and departure paths. There is also little chance of losing aviation corridors due to subsequent development.

 

Skyportz, which has engaged with property owners across Australia and internationally to secure potential sites for vertiports, says its focus is on “breaking the nexus between aviation and airports and enabling property owners to activate their sites with vertiports”.

Newton-Brown says the release by CASA of guidelines for vertiport developments in Australia signals the authority’s commitment to facilitate advanced air mobility (AAM) in Australia.

The CASA guidelines envisage that new vertiports will exclude helicopters to assist with developing community support for AAM.

“Vertiport specifications provide a clear separation between building a facility for all vertical lift aircraft (a heliport) and a facility that excludes helicopters (a vertiport),” says the CASA report.

“This will give the AAM industry an opportunity to demonstrate to the community that a vertiport (catering only for VCA) may be more desirable than a heliport.

“If communities are going to accept AAM as an industry, then gaining this ‘social licence’ is vitally important.

“With the guidance for vertiports clearly excluding the use of helicopters then we hope that local councils and communities will be more accepting to AAM in their localities.”

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