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Skyportz signs deal for 100 ‘automatic’ electric helicopters

written by Jake Nelson | May 23, 2024

Urban air mobility firm FlyNow says its “eCopters” will enable inner-city flights for the same price as a taxi. (Image supplied)

Electric air taxi startup Skyportz will buy up to 100 electric helicopters (“eCopters”) from urban air mobility firm FlyNow.

The deal will give Skyportz subsidiary Wilbur Air, which will use the Skyportz vertiport network, access to small cargo helicopters that will fly freight between businesses on fixed routes with flight plans rather than autonomously selecting their own routes.

“We are very excited about the potential for the FlyNow aircraft initially for our automatic freight services, flying business to business,” said Skyportz CEO Clem Newton-Brown.

“Many of our Skyportz vertiport partners are industrial property owners which are searching for heavy lifting drone freight solutions.

“Establishing a business-to-business freight service will enable us to prove the concept and operational safety in partnership with FlyNow, before we move to passenger applications.”


FlyNow says its small battery-electric helicopters, which will use coaxial rotors rather than a quadcopter-like design, will have a maximum payload of 200kg and a maximum take-off weight of 570kg, and will be able to fly for up to 30 minutes with a maximum speed of 130km/h and maximum range of 50km.

According to FlyNow CEO Jurgen Greil, the deal “will take urban transportation to new heights in Australia, integrating cutting-edge FlyNow eCopters into an extensive 3D mobility network”.

“FlyNow brings to the table our state-of-the-art, whisper-quiet eCopters, setting a new benchmark in eco-friendly, cost-effective, and efficient urban transport,” Greil said.

“Together, we’re not just connecting points on a map; we’re creating a seamless, sky-bound journey that’s as breathtaking as the innovation behind it.”

Announced in April, Wilbur Air will use a “range of aircraft partners” to provide services including short- and long-range passenger transport and heavy-lift drone deliveries.

The first partner, US-based Electra.Aero, will supply Australia’s first 100 electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft, said Newton-Brown last month.

“We see great potential for the Electra.Aero aircraft in Australia given its unique long-range capacity. We will have some further announcements soon regarding additional aircrafts that will suit a range of uses that we intend to operate,” he said.

Skyportz last year announced a partnership with Electro.Aero, an unrelated battery and aircraft charging company, to develop a “vertiport in a box” solution. According to Newton-Brown, Skyportz is looking to enable property owners to install vertiports at their sites.

“There is enormous interest from the property industry to help us break the nexus between aviation and airports. In the future commercial and industrial landholders could be able to establish mini airports and vertistops to become part of the Skyportz network,” he said.

“We are working with governments, air regulators and communities to establish the parameters for the introduction of vertiport infrastructure and short take-off and landing runways.

“If all the aircraft do is fly from airports and helipads then there will be no revolution. We need to start developing vertiports in new locations now.”

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