Skyportz has released new images showing how it will transform a heliport on the Yarra River into a vertiport for electric air taxis.
The Batman Park site, owned by charter operator Microflite, would also include a hub for electric scooters, bikes, ferries, and hire boats, as well as a café.
Melbourne-based Skyportz is planning to create hundreds of air taxi launchpads across the country that will ultimately be located in urban locations such as business parks, shopping centres and car parking garages.
In 2021, it signed an agreement with a US manufacturer to purchase 100 hybrid electric short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft, with the first set to arrive in 2026.
Skyportz CEO Clem Newton-Brown said waterfront sites are the most practical to retrofit cities for advanced air mobility.
“Waterfront sites are also likely to be one of the few places where land can be found to accommodate terminals, and there is also the option for floating landing pads,” he said.
“Paris has five vertiports proposed for the Olympics next year. They will be primarily using existing airports and helipads. The one new vertiport they have chosen to be on the river. This aligns with our thinking that when cities need to actually choose vertiport locations, the lowest-hanging fruit will be the waterfront locations.
“We are really excited to have developed this concept in conjunction with Contreras Earl Architecture and Pascall+Watson Architects, and it has great potential to be rolled out in waterfront cities around the world.
“This landmark building is the result of addressing many different important parameters, including sustainability, context, climate, community and the user experience.
“The vertiport will feature a high-performance roof designed to be structurally robust, lightweight and sustainable owing to its aluminium monocoque structure – the same system employed in the manufacturing of cars and aircraft.”
Microflite, which currently has a fleet of 19 aircraft, plans to switch its traditional helicopters for electric aircraft.
“There is no doubt that helicopters will soon be phased out in tourism and short commuter flights, and Microflite wants to lead the way in decarbonising aviation as soon as electric aircraft are certified for commercial use,” said Microflite’s COO, Rod Higgins.
“Of the many thousands of passengers and tourists that Microflite fly from its Melbourne Heliport each year, an increasing number are asking when the aviation industry will be progressing to sustainable operations.”
The news comes after Australian Aviation reported in April how 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 wait on certification.
The modular building, deliverable to the site in a shipping container, includes a high-powered battery bank and charger, plus solar panels.