Skyportz released a press release this week which boldly says, “Waterfront Vertiports are the future for AAM.” The vertiport company led by CEO, Clem Newton-Brown, is collaborating with Architects, Contreras Earl Architecture and Pascall and Watson, to create a concept for an Australian waterfront e‑mobility hub.
The proposal will replace an existing heliport on the Yarra River in Melbourne, with a new purpose built vertiport to accommodate the introduction of eVTOLs. Under this proposal, the site can also be a multi-modal hub for electric scooters, bikes, ferries and hire boats. An additional cafe would provide an area for people “to view the action”.
Newton-Brown explained, “We have been developing designs and concepts for vertiports for five years and we keep coming back to waterfront sites being the most practical to retrofit cities for Advanced Air Mobility. The reality is that such sites provide the safest access for electric air taxis in terms of aviation requirements for clear approach and departure paths.”
He continued, “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.”
Adding, “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.”
The proposal complements the City’s Greenline Masterplan objectives in achieving both an environmentally and commercially revitalised Yarra frontage with greatly improved pedestrian access.
Rafael Contreras, Director of Contreras Earl Architecture, remarked, “By embracing the latest technology, we are liberated from traditional building practices and forms, and free to explore more forward-thinking ideas. Advanced Air Mobility presents a real opportunity to enhance our major cities with regards to both improved liveability and connectivity. Melbourne is ahead by having two vertiports designed for its city.”
Newton Brown enthused, “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.
“The key to this industry is breaking the nexus between aviation and existing airports. We need to develop a network of new vertiport sites if the industry is to reach its potential and we see the greatest potential in waterfront locations.” Adding, “This concept has great potential to be rolled out in waterfront cities around the world.”
The Victorian State Government released its Victorian AAM Action Plan last month. This states, “The Action Plan will remove barriers to industry development and support new investment into the State. It will prepare Victoria’s economy to benefit from the range of new clean energy industries, technology and jobs that will strengthen Victoria’s capability and supply chain across the aerospace, advanced manufacturing and renewables sector.”
And continued, “Investment in these technologies will unlock new zero-emission capabilities across logistics, service delivery, emergency services, regional connectivity and passenger transport, as well as support Victoria’s Climate Change Strategy target of net zero by 2045.”
Meanwhile, the existing operator of the Melbourne Heliport at Batman Park, Microflite, has plans to transform its fleet of traditional helicopters with electric aircraft and has placed orders which are expected to be delivered within the next five years.
Company COO, Rod Higgins, said, “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. 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.”
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