Melbourne-based electric air taxi startup Skyportz has partnered with battery and aircraft charging company Electro.Aero to develop a portable electric aircraft charging station.
Billed as a “vertiport in a box”, the setup is pitched at private building owners as an “affordable, modular, turn-key solution” that can offer utility while the aircraft are still waiting on certification.
The modular building, deliverable to site in a shipping container, includes a high-powered battery bank and charger, plus solar panels. According to Clem Newton-Brown, Skyportz CEO, the industry must “break the nexus” between aviation and existing airports.
“The focus in the industry to date has been on larger vertiports located at existing airports. This is the low-hanging fruit which will form the essential backbone of an Advanced Air Mobility ecosystem,” said Newton-Brown.
“However, if this industry is to reach its potential, we need to break the nexus between aviation and airports and let private property owners develop their own vertiports.”
While it is too soon to be applying for vertiport approvals from governments, as standards are still in development, Skyportz says its vertiport setups will be useful even before the first electric air taxi takes flight.
“Skyportz will be getting our network of vertiports and battery packs established now with enthusiastic property owners who will come back later for an aviation use permit,” said Newton-Brown.
“In the meantime, they will have developed sustainable power storage and a vertiport building that could be used as a cafe or meeting room.”
Skyportz has been pushing ahead with partnerships, last year signing a deal with carpark operator Secure Parking to repurpose rooftop carparks and create up to an additional 400 landing bases for electric air taxis in cities around Australia.
“While there will always be a need for car parking in our cities, it may be that the demand is not going to bounce to pre-pandemic levels,” said Newton-Brown at the time.
“Car parks are ideal locations for Skyportz facilities. They are generally located in places people want to go, and they are constructed to a standard which can take the weight of vehicles on flat rooftops.”
The deal with Electro.Aero is not to be confused with Skyportz’s agreement with similarly-named firm Electra.aero for the purchase of up to 100 hybrid electric short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft, signed in 2021.
The first delivery of the new aircraft to Skyportz is expected to take place in 2026, with the first demonstrator model set to grace Australian skies as soon as 2023.
It marks the latest in a number of recent deals that could see air taxis and eVTOL vehicles in regular use around Australia as soon as 2025.