For Clem Newton-Brown, CEO of Australian advanced air mobility (AAM) company Skyportz, it’s no question eVTOL aircraft will be sharing the airspace with conventional aircraft in the future, but the issue is determining where they’ll take off and land.
“At this stage in the industry, the most important thing a vertiport operator can do is get options on sites,” Newton-Brown told verticalmag.com.
During the AIRTAXI World Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sept. 14, the company announced it is opening its property database to the world. The database is so far made up of around 400 sites identified from its home country.
Describing Skyportz as a vertiport real estate company, Newton-Brown said its property database is geared toward vertiport operators, giving them a map of potential sites they could use to build out their infrastructure network.
“What that means is anyone who wants to build out a network, they can come to us and short-cut the process of finding willing property partners who have been vetted by us,” he said. “No other vertiport company is doing this in the world. This is our real point of difference.”
Skyportz will be partnering with aviation consultancy To70 Aviation, as well as NEXA Capital and UAM Geomatics, to analyze the sites for suitability once they begin receiving inquiries from interested vertiport operators.
“If someone comes to us and tells us they want to build a site in Melbourne, for example, we’ll look at the sites and assess them in terms of passenger demand, suitability for aviation purposes, access to electricity — you could write a book on all the issues that need to be considered,” Newton-Brown said.
In addition to identifying potential vertiport locations for developers, Skyportz announced at last month’s AAM Summit that it is also working with To70 Aviation, along with design company Contreras Earl Architecture and planning and engineering firm Arup, to develop Australia’s first vertiport at the Caribbean Park business park.
Now, the Australian company has unveiled a prefabricated modular version of this vertiport that it said will be compact and light enough that it can be shipped anywhere in the world and assembled on site.
While the company is offering two off-the-shelf versions of its modular vertiport design — a 20-foot (six meter) building and a 40-foot (12 meter) building — Newton-Brown said the company can also custom-build a vertiport based on its customers’ needs.
The modular vertiport does not include a take-off and landing pad, meaning property owners only need to obtain a building permit to have one assembled. And without proper government standards to regulate the vertiports, or certified eVTOL aircraft to operate out of them, the site wouldn’t necessarily be able operate as a vertiport right away.
But by offering these modular vertiports now, Newton-Brown said potential vertiport operators can be prepared with the infrastructure needed to support future operations.
In the meantime, “[the] vertiports can be used for other purposes, such as event spaces, cafes, bars or meeting rooms, and be ready for aviation activation when the time is right,” he said.
Potential operators have the option of using Beta Technologies’ battery charging infrastructure for their site, which the company said will be suitable for almost any aircraft that might utilize the vertiport. Skyportz is also working with potential interior design partners to determine different customer experience options for its vertiports.
Newton-Brown said Skyportz is working with a prospective supplier in Europe, and would likely have the vertiports manufactured in that region as well. The company is planning to develop a modular vertiport with a take-off and landing pad on the roof in the future.