Prior to Uber Air’s announcement that Melbourne had been selected as the third official pilot city for its “flying taxi” fleet, Skyportz had been advancing the case for Australia to be a world leader in the emerging clean, green, electric air taxi industry.
McKinsey forecasts the industry will be worth more than a trillion dollars by 2040 and the race to get commercial type certification for these new aircraft is well under way.
Some of the biggest aviation companies in the world have flying prototypes including Boeing, Bell, Airbus and Embraer.
Automotive companies such as Hyundai, Toyota and Rolls Royce are also in the race as well as new aviation disruptors such as Joby, Lilium, Volocopter, Archer and Electra Aero.
The investment into the aircraft frontrunners stands at almost $10 billion and there is no doubt that we will see some of the 300-plus start-ups get certified in the next few years.
However, the missing piece of the puzzle is where these aircraft are going to land.
To fulfil their potential, we need these aircraft to land in places where helicopters can’t go—think business parks, manufacturing hubs, industrial land, shopping centres, car parking garages and eventually city rooftops.
Skyportz has quietly amassed a stable of more than 400 sites across Australia in partnership with various industrial and commercial property players such as Secure Parking.
These sites are ready to be activated as soon as the land use planning rules allow.
In a major boost to the burgeoning industry in Australia, the federal government and the Victorian government this week signed a memorandum of understanding to foster the long-term growth of the advanced air mobility industry for both passenger and freight services.
The federal government has already committed $35.7 million to developing air taxi and drone freight through the National Emerging Aviation Policy and the Victorian government has committed $12 million to the new Swinburne Airhub which aims to advance capability across aerospace, defence, software development and advanced manufacturing.
CASA and Air Services Australia have been working on developing a whole new era in aviation for some years already.
The federal government is likely to enter similar MOUs with other states soon.
It is incumbent on state governments to move swiftly to amend planning schemes to allow these new “mini airports” to be established in areas which are convenient—no more driving to a capital city airport to get on a plane, the journey will be able to start at your local landing spot.
Regional towns will be able to be connected to cities without the need to pass through a major airport.
In addition to local air taxi developer AMSL aero, the US-based Electra Aero and Embraer’s Eve have announced plans for Australian operations.
More will come now that we have indicated a commitment to strong policy action. There is a global race well under way and the capital will flow to jurisdictions which have the policy settings enabling this industry to flourish.
For property developers it will mean that a whole new land use will be possible which will add amenity to attract tenants—air taxi landing sites built into mixed-use and residential developments and drone freight services becoming the central hub at industrial and business parks.
If you have previously dismissed this emerging industry as science fiction, it is now very clear that Australia is committed to being a world leader in this space.
Now is the time to reassess commercial property portfolios for the potential to diversify into electric aviation.