The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has released new guidelines relating to the construction of vertiports for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft such as air taxis.
The document, published this month, offers guidance for vertiport builds in areas such as location, physical design, essential and optional components, and obstacle limitation surfaces, and was developed following extensive industry consultation.
“With Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) evolving rapidly, these specifications have been prepared to support the progress of necessary aerodrome infrastructure. The guidance outlined below is flexible and structured such that it can evolve with this emerging industry,” CASA wrote.
“However, it should be noted that these specifications are subject to change as aircraft performance and other data becomes available.
“Likewise, international standards are also in development and may impact on this guidance. Any significant revision of this guidance will be subject to industry consultation.”
Melbourne-based electric air taxi startup Skyportz, which recently launched a portable “vertiport-in-a-box” product pitched at private building owners as an “affordable, modular, turn-key solution” that can offer utility while the aircraft are still waiting on certification, has welcomed the new guidance.
CEO Clem Newton-Brown says the guidelines will allow corporate-branded vertiports and allow Skyportz and other firms to develop their own operational networks.
“This is a great step forward for Australia and shows our preparedness to welcome this new industry into Australian skies,” said Newton-Brown.
“There is no doubt the aircraft are coming. However, the potential for this industry will only be achieved if we break the nexus between aviation and airports and enable a new class of land use to emerge, giving property owners the opportunity to host electric air taxi vertiports.”
The firm says it has been gathering details on “a stable of potential vertiport sites”, primarily in Australia, with interest from “hundreds” of potential property partners.
“We look forward to welcoming air taxi developers to Australia to operate from our network of Skyportz vertiports in the future,” said Newton-Brown.
Skyportz in 2021 signed an agreement with Electra.aero for the purchase of up to 100 hybrid electric short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft.
The first delivery of the new aircraft to Skyportz is expected to take place in 2026, with the first demonstrator model expected to be seen in Australian skies as soon as this year.
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.