Embraer offshoot Eve Urban Air Mobility has partnered with yet another Australian company in order to bring electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, commonly known as air taxis, to our shores within the next five years.
After making a number of similar announcements earlier this year with Melbourne-based companies, Eve has shifted its attention to Queensland, and partnered 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.
According to Chris Morris, CEO and founder of Nautilus Aviation’s parent company Morris Group, the partnership is a massive step towards the operator’s goal of achieving zero emissions on 100 per cent of scenic flights over the Great Barrier Reef, which has been damaged and bleached by the impact of greenhouse gases.
“We believe economic success and environmental sustainability go hand-in-hand and aim to strengthen and enrich the environments in which we work,” Morris said.
“Eve’s eVTOL technology will integrate seamlessly into our operations to deliver a range of exciting zero-emission tourism experiences.”
Meanwhile, Nautilus Aviation CEO Aaron Finn said Nautilus has had an Advanced Ecotourism Certification for eight years, however it has been hard to avoid the biggest impact of greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fuel in the company’s helicopters.
“This will allow us to provide emission-free and quiet tours over the Great Barrier Reef, providing an unmatched eco experience to our customers,” Finn said.
Andre Stein, president and CEO of Eve, said the initiative was also an important milestone for Eve, as the company increasingly expands its operations in Australia.
“Our partnership with Nautilus Aviation and Morris Group will see Eve aircraft serving Australia’s iconic tourism attractions with sustainable, zero emissions, low-noise journeys,” Stein said.
“We share the same vision toward a carbon-neutral future for air mobility and this a great use case for the solutions Eve is bringing to the market, including our 100 per cent electric eVTOL and comprehensive customer support and air traffic management solutions.”
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.
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 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.
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.
Earlier, 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.”