The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Gold Coast Helicopter Operator Signs Up for Australian Vertiport Network Plan

Advanced air mobility ground infrastructure provider Skyportz has added more partners to help build its planned network of eVTOL aircraft landing sites in Australia. The Melbourne-based company said it has partnered with Sea World Helicopters to prepare to introduce air taxi services in the Gold Coast metropolitan area, south of Brisbane in the state of Queensland.

Addressing the Australian Association for Uncrewed Systems (AAUS) in Canberra on March 30, Skyportz CEO Clem Newton-Brown said that eVTOL operations could be up and running in and around the Gold Coast by 2032 when Brisbane will be hosting the Olympic Games. He said that the company has already identified potential sites in southern Queensland and will explore how these could be used to develop vertiports.

“Skyportz has been accumulating sites in Australia since 2018 and we now have over 400 property partners ready to build out a Skyportz network,” said Newton-Brown. “The Sea World Helicopters partnership means we have an operational partner on the Gold Coast to activate our vertiport network.”

The operator is based next to the Sea World theme park in Gold Coast and currently offers sightseeing tours and charter flights with its fleet of rotorcraft. “We intend to be at the forefront of the industry as it morphs into cleaner and quieter electric propulsion,” said Sea World Helicopters CEO John Orr-Campbell. “We have helicopter landing infrastructure on the Gold Coast which we can activate with electric eVTOL aircraft as soon as they become available.”

Skyportz, which says it already has agreements with around 400 real estate companies in Australia, previously announced a partnership with Secure Parking, which has over 50 sites across the Gold Coast and Brisbane areas. The company also has a partnership in Victoria state with helicopter operator Microflite.

Pointing to a recent A$32 million ($24 million) fund covering new and emerging aviation technologies, Newton-Brown told the AAUS meeting that he is hopeful that federal and state authorities in Australia will be supportive of plans to launch eVTOL aircraft operations and develop infrastructure that is integrated with other transportation services and also with Olympic venues. “We expect that by 2032 we should have a well-established electric air taxi service on the Gold Coast and around Brisbane if we get the support from all levels of government,” he commented. “It’s not going to be the technology which holds up the advance of electric air taxis. It is not having enough operators and places to land which will be the impediments to limit the potential for advanced air mobility.”

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate expressed support for eVTOL air taxi operations. “Between the major SEQ [Southeastern Queensland] cities, more than three million people reside [and] we attract in excess of 13 million annual visitors, so the market is certainly there for innovative transport solutions like this.”