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Melbourne flying taxis edge closer with second Embraer deal

written by Hannah Dowling | September 3, 2021

Embraer has announced a second major partnership in the course of two weeks to bring its electric ‘flying taxis’ to Melbourne in 2026.

The Brazilian planemaker’s subsidiary Eve said its deal with local charter helicopter operator Microflite will lay the foundations and “validate parameters” so electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles can launch in just five years’ time.

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The news significantly comes shortly after Eve announced a separate partnership with Ascent to allow the revolutionary aircraft to be booked via an Uber-style app.

Eve said its new deal with Victoria-based Microflite will develop “new services and procedures” to create a safe and scalable operating environment for eVTOLs, together with communities and other industry stakeholders.

“Our partnership with Microflite allows Eve to inject innovation and new mobility solutions within the Australian market,” said Andre Stein, president and CEO of Eve Urban Air Mobility.

“We can deliver a comprehensive solution, including maintenance services and air traffic management, getting ready to introduce our aircraft to Australia, while benefiting from Microflite’s extensive local operational experience.”

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Microflite CEO Jonathan Booth said, “This partnership is an exciting development for Microflite. Australia needs a post-COVID lift and what better way to do that than by developing high-tech and low carbon jobs that support transport, tourism and the vibrancy of this wonderful country.

“Microflite will work closely with Eve and its partners to evaluate the best path to bring this innovative service to customers.”

Microflite has previously contributed to the initial concept of operations (CONOPS) that has been developed by Eve and Airservices Australia.

The CONOPS explored the foundation of new and practical concepts to safely facilitate the introduction of air taxis in Melbourne, and forms one of multiple similar ventures undertaken by Eve around the world to create urban air traffic management (UATM) solutions.

Eve notes that off the back of the Australian government’s support of UAM solutions, and the country’s strong aviation safety record, Australia could be one of the world’s first Urban Air Mobility markets.

“The creation of the UAM ecosystem requires innovative solutions, which is also a fundamental pillar of Embraer’s growth strategy for the coming years, and EmbraerX was built to address these needs,” said Daniel Moczydlower, president and CEO of EmbraerX, parent company to Eve.

“Through this partnership, we are jointly embarking on the first steps toward Australia becoming one of the world’s first Urban Air Mobility markets.”

Using the City of Melbourne as a model, the CONOPS examines how existing air traffic management solutions can initially enable UAM operations while simultaneously preparing for scale of operations through new traffic management technologies.

“This exciting initiative combines Airservices’ experience as the national airspace manager with the technical innovation of Embraer,” said Peter Curran, chief customer experience and strategy officer at Airservices.

“We have the responsibility of keeping our skies safe, and we are excited to leverage our significant expertise and operational capabilities in airspace management and partner with a global aviation expert to develop innovative solutions that ensure safe and equitable access to the urban airspace for a broad spectrum of aircraft, including conventional helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, and eVTOL aircraft.”

The news comes just two weeks after Eve announced an extended partnership with aviation booking platform Ascent, which could see Melburnians ordering eVTOL taxis from their smartphones by 2026.

Under the partnership, Eve will provide Ascent with 100 of its eVTOL aircraft and 100,000 allocated hours of annual flight time, which can be ordered direct through Ascent’s online and mobile booking platform.

Ascent hopes to use its 100,000 allocated hours of flying time to service Melbourne as well as Bangkok, Manila, Singapore, and Tokyo as soon as 2026.

The business’ platform is currently used to book helicopters, but it has long-planned to transition to eVTOLs.

The new deal expands on an earlier partnership between the two, penned in June, which focused on accelerating the development of the Urban Air Mobility ecosystem in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Ascent is one of the greatest players of urban air mobility in the Asia-Pacific and its strong presence in the region makes it an ideal partner for Eve’s operations,” said Andre Stein, president and CEO of Eve.

“The region holds a massive demand for transportation disruption that can be filled with our low-emission aircraft. This is the right recipe for sustainable growth.”

Lionel Sinai-Sinelnikoff, founder and CEO of Ascent, said, “Eve’s innovative technology, combined with its manufacturing expertise and global servicing footprint through Embraer, comfort us in bringing a solution fitting the region’s complex requirements.

“With Ascent operating system onboarding Eve’s fleet and connected to Eve’s UATM, air operator partners will be empowered to elevate UAM operations at scale.”

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2 Comments

  • Margaret

    says:

    From the picture they appear to be too large to easily land with the space required for the wings, so their activity as a taxi could be limited.

  • chris

    says:

    I’m presuming that, at least initially, the intention is that these aircraft will be piloted, although the story does not specifically confirm that.

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