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Air taxis bound for Sydney as Embraer partners with Sydney Seaplanes

written by Hannah Dowling | December 10, 2021

Flying taxis could soon be serving Greater Sydney after a new deal penned by Embraer and Sydney Seaplanes.

The iconic Sydney-based aviation tourism provider has signed a new deal with Embraer subsidiary Eve Urban Air Mobility, to purchase up to 50 of Eve’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, with deliveries to begin in 2026.

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It’s the latest in a string of partnerships announced by Eve and Australian companies and operators, as the company gears up to bring eVTOL vehicles and infrastructure to Australian cities across the eastern seaboard.

The move also aligns with Sydney Seaplanes’ previous targets to reduce emissions and embrace all-electric aircraft, plus the addition of electric vehicles to its fleet will allow the company to extend its catchment to include all of Greater Sydney from its hub at Rose Bay.

It could see the seamless connection between inner-city locations and the new Western Sydney Airport, for the same cost as an Uber of the same distance – notably achieved in less than a quarter of the time.

“Sydney needs a post-COVID lift and what better way to do that than by developing high-tech and zero-carbon jobs that support transport, tourism and the vibrancy of this wonderful city,” said Aaron Shaw, CEO of Sydney Seaplanes.

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“Eve’s eVTOL technology will integrate seamlessly with our electric amphibious fleet to deliver a range of tourism and commuter journeys.

“Subject to community consultation, we expect some flights will operate from our iconic Rose Bay aviation terminal in Sydney Harbour. This service will have widespread appeal which will allow us to open new routes beyond the Harbour and throughout the greater Sydney region.”

Meanwhile, Andre Stein, president and CEO of Eve said: “We are pleased to support Sydney Seaplanes as they seek to bring new mobility solutions to Sydney. The Greater Sydney market offers significant potential for scaled urban air mobility operations, to make the most of the iconic beauty of Sydney Harbour and to improve the efficiency of movement to complement existing transport modes.

“Eve will support this new partnership with comprehensive solutions for aircraft operations including air traffic management solutions, maintenance, training and other services.”

Eve is not only developing its own zero-emission, low-noise eVTOL aircraft, but has also been working hard to define and establish the required infrastructure to allow for widespread air taxi operations, what it dubs an urban air traffic management (UATM) system.

It marks the latest in a long line of partnerships and investments made by Eve to bring air taxis to Australia.

Most recently, earlier this month, Eve shifted its attention to Queensland for the first time, under a new partnership with local helicopter tourism operator Nautilus Aviation.

Under the agreement, Nautilus is set to welcome up to 10 of Eve’s eVTOL aircraft to replace part of its current helicopter fleet, and perform tourist flights throughout northern Queensland, including the iconic Great Barrier Reef, by 2026.

Earlier, in August, Eve announced it had extended its partnership with aviation booking platform Ascent, which could see Melburnians ordering eVTOL taxis from their smartphones by 2026.

Under this 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.

Then in September, Eve signed a deal with Melbourne-based charter helicopter operator Microflite to lay the foundations and “validate parameters”, to see eVTOL vehicles launch in the city, also by 2026.

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

In December 2020, Eve partnered with Airservices Australia to reveal an initial concept of operations (CONOPS) for the flying taxi market in Melbourne.

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 UATM solutions.

Eve notes that off the back of the Australian government’s support of UATM 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.”

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