Advanced Air Mobility News

Microflite & Sydney Seaplanes plan AAM future

Microflite & Sydney Seaplanes plan AAM future

Australian operators Microflite and Sydney Seaplanes are making plans to operate their Eve eVTOL aircraft alongside existing fleets on tourism and medical transportation missions in the first stage of eVTOL operations in Australia.

Melbourne-based helicopter operator Microflite has an order for up to 40 eVTOL aircraft from Embraer company Eve Urban Air Mobility. It plans to integrate its Eve eVTOL aircraft alongside its existing 21 Airbus and Bell helicopters which operate emergency, medical services and tourism missions.

Microflite is “looking for the right fit” for the vehicles, Jonathan Booth, CEO, said at the recent AAM Summit in Melbourne organised by the Australian Association for Uncrewed Systems (AAUS). “Our eVTOL operations will run alongside helicopters initially, from regional to central locations,” says Booth, pointing to specific missions, such as medical transportation, hospital transfers, cargo and tourism flights on pre-planned routes. Booth believes by having existing aviation operators launch eVTOL operations, it will help with community acceptance of the technology. AAM offers the potential of carbon neutral, quieter operations with vehicles at a lower price point, providing more availability for the community, says Booth.

Sydney Seaplanes currently operates amphibious aircraft from Rose Bay in Sydney Harbour on primarily tourism and leisure flights, operating some 8,000 flights per annum. The company has a letter of intent for up to 50 Eve eVTOL aircraft for delivery from 2026 when they will be incorporated into existing operations, says Aaron Shaw, CEO and founder.

“We’ll probably use them as a replacement to existing technology on existing services,” says Shaw. The company also has “much bigger plans” for the eVTOLs, he says, pointing to the potential for eVTOLs to operate regional services linking Canberra, Greater Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, for example, as well as medical applications.

He notes that the first vehicle will arrive around a similar time to the opening of the new Western Sydney Airport, which presents a “great opportunity” for eVTOL services. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” he says, adding that the Eve aircraft will be a different type of air vehicle that will be quieter, more economical than aircraft operating today, allowing them to be viable for a greater number of people.

“We already have a business model that is proven,” says Clem Newton-Brown, CEO of AAM infrastructure company Skyportz, pointing for example to helicopters operating charter flights to wineries and events.

“The business already works with the high cost of helicopters,” he says. Helicopter operations will provide the testbed for eVTOL aircraft, he says, adding that these aircraft will be “a whole lot quieter”. The first step is to get eVTOLs into the country and then put them into service on helicopter operations, he says.