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Skip to all active programmes in Australia

Australia is likely to be a UAM global pioneer, as government high-level strategic plans and industry bottom-up plans move more closely together. Melbourne was originally chosen as a launch city for Uber’s UAM services but since the take-over by Joby of Uber these plans have been delayed. The city is still listed as one of Joby’s list of target cities and the company has been reported as working towards launching its first commercial services there as early as 2024, though other operators are targeting the start of 2026 for first commercial operations.

Eve, Joby and Wisk are all developing eVTOL routes in the country, while cities and states are drawing up regional service plans, with Brisbane’s target of having air taxi operations in place for the 2032 Olympic Games an important focus for accelerating eVTOL route planning. In parallel, several projects in the country are under way to use eVTOL platforms for medical and emergency services in both rural and urban areas.

From a high-level viewpoint, in December 2020 EmbraerX, a Brazilian Embraer’s business subsidiary, and Airservices, Australia’s Civil Air Navigation service provider, published “a new concept of operations” (CONOPS) for the air taxi market. Using the City of Melbourne, Australia as a model, CONOPS has examined how existing air traffic management solutions can initially enable UAM operations, while simultaneously preparing for the scale of operations through new traffic management technologies.

In July 2022 Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) published its remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) and advanced air mobility (AAM) roadmap. Here are the highlights.

Immediate term (2022 to 2023)
Aircraft and aircraft systems
• Publish acceptable industry consensus standards for piloted AAM.
• Review applicable maintenance policies for AAM.
• Review international frameworks, standards and methods for certification and assurance of RPAS. This includes consideration of adoption of FAA durability and reliability method for low risk RPAS.
• Review applicable maintenance policies for RPAS.
• Publish guidance on the evidence requirements from the OEM versus the operator for RPAS operational approvals.
• Airspace and traffic management
• Through the AFAF, develop a transparent, consistent, and scalable method to manage Australian airspace that supports RPAS and AAM integration.
• Research how existing separation standards may apply to RPAS and AAM. Identify future changes required including conspicuity and equipage considerations.
• Review existing flight rules against the future needs for RPAS and AAM.
• Work with DITRDC and Airservices Australia to develop a regulatory oversight framework for UTM.
• Operations
• Develop and publish further guidance material for RPAS operations already enabled in existing regulation including acceptable means of compliance.
• Develop and publish guidance material for approval of research and development operations.
• Review and publish guidance on the carriage of dangerous goods by RPAS.
• Implement regulatory changes from the post implementation review of CASR Part 101. • Conduct a gap analysis of CASR parts to identify regulatory changes required to support RPAS and AAM operations.
• Publish more standard scenarios and SORA guidance for low risk RPAS operations and emergency services.
• Talk with model aircraft, drone sport and recreation flyers to find opportunities for improved collaboration and consultation. Infrastructure
• Develop guidance material, design requirements and regulations for vertiports and other infrastructure required to support AAM operations.
• Develop guidance for infrastructure required to support research and development activities.
• Work collaboratively across government to understand and establish spectrum requirements for RPAS and AAM.
• Work with DITRDC to set up the National drone detection network and support all safety aspects of the infrastructure planning framework.

Near term (2023 to 2026)
Aircraft and aircraft systems
• Publish acceptable industry consensus standards for single aircraft single operator, and multiple aircraft single operator for AAM.
• Publish acceptable industry consensus standards for remotely piloted AAM.
• Publish acceptable industry consensus standards for multiple aircraft, single operator for RPAS.
• Airspace and traffic management
• Develop an implementation plan for airspace modernisation that is flexible, scalable and supports all airspace users.
• Begin initial implementation to ease identified risks and support RPAS and AAM airspace integration.
• Carry out an analysis to understand the crossover point from self-separation to a ‘managed’ environment.
• Consider new separation standards, that use new technologies, for RPAS-to-RPAS and RPAS-to-AAM.
• Consider standardised requirements for RPAS in controlled airspace.
• Consult with all airspace users on the appropriateness of proposed rules for RPAS and AAM.
• Develop standards and capabilities to support the implementation of low level traffic management systems for RPAS.
• Consider regulatory requirements for integrating air traffic management systems.
• Develop airspace requirements for vertiport operations.
• Operations
• Develop guidance on the operational approval requirements for AAM operations, including operations which are remotely piloted and pilot-on-board.
• Develop standards for international RPAS and AAM operations.
• Review existing approval and oversight processes to make sure they are proportionate to the risk and complexity of operational activities.
• Infrastructure
• Implement a regulatory framework to support RPAS and AAM infrastructure (for example vertiports, vertipads).
• Develop certification requirements for infrastructure and infrastructure related equipment.
• Develop a regulatory framework for the operation of research and development infrastructure.
• People
• Implement regulatory and system changes following the review of RePL requirements.
• Align RPAS training and licensing requirements with international standards.
• Update regulations to support new licensing requirements.
• Implement standard training and licensing requirements for personnel involved in piloted passenger carrying AAM.
• Review radio operator competency requirements for remote pilots.
• Safety and security
• Develop SMS and human factor policies that are proportionate to risk and complexity.
• Consider and implement a tiered requirement for SMS for RPAS and AAM operators.
• Coordinate with enforcement agencies and revise CASA’s enforcement manual.
• Work with DITRDC to provide transparent, reporting on RPAS enforcement actions to promote corrective actions and lessons learned.
• Continue to work with industry associations to promote key safety lessons from available data.

Medium term (2026 to 2031)
Aircraft and aircraft systems
• Make sure certification standards are internationally harmonised for AAM.
• Publish acceptable industry consensus standards for highly automated RPAS.
• Airspace and traffic management
• Continue airspace modernisation to support RPAS and AAM integration into all airspace environments.
• Develop new separation requirements to support and use improving technologies such as autonomy.
• Review and update rulesets with respect to integration, global approaches, and requirements for increasing levels of autonomy.
• Develop an integrated traffic management framework to support all airspace users. Operations
• Integrate RPAS operational requirements into relevant CASR parts for operations outside the scope of Part 101.
• Apply changes required to support operational requirements for AAM.
• Mature risk calculation methods used for determining operational categories using data, artificial intelligence and/ or quantitative methods.
• Consider alternative methods of regulatory oversight, including possible use of self-administering organisations. Infrastructure
• Regulate operator training and requirements for infrastructure operators.
• Regulate equipage requirements for infrastructure operators.
• People
• Develop a specific set of outcome-based standards for RePL training on large type RPAS.
• Implement standard training and licensing requirements for personnel involved in remotely piloted and optionally piloted passenger carrying AAM.
• Introduce updated licensing requirements needed for RPAS and AAM operations factoring in the increasing levels of automation and autonomy.
• Safety and security
• Apply streamlined processes for the approval of SMS for RPAS and AAM operators.
• Continue to promote an understanding of ‘just culture’ across the RPAS and AAM sectors.
• Coordinate the approach to enforcement between enforcement authorities.  

Long term (2031 to 2036)
Aircraft and aircraft systems
• Publish acceptable industry consensus standards for highly automated AAM.
• Airspace and traffic management
• Develop and implement airspace structures to support all airspace users in a seamless airspace environment.
• Develop standards and capabilities to support cooperative participation and levels of self-separation between all airspace users.
• Infrastructure
• Mature regulations and approval processes to support RPAS and AAM related infrastructure.
• People
• Implement standard licensing and training requirements for AAM dispatchers.
• Safety and security
• Continue to carry out safety education and promotion activities to embed a positive safety culture.
From the bottom-up, industry development perspective:
• In January 2022 Skyportz, the Australian-based air taxi infrastructure start-up, announced a partnership with Secure Parking to deliver up to 400 potential new vertiport sites. Skyportz is working with Australian Federal and State governments to help develop the standards, regulations and zones which will enable “mini airports” in new locations in and around cities and regional centres.
• In September 2021 Eve Urban Air Mobility, an Embraer company, and Microflite, an Australian helicopter operator, announced a partnership to commercialise UAM services in the country by 2026.
• In February 2022 Eve Urban Air Mobility announced a partnership with Aviair and Helispirit leading to “an order of up to 50 Eve eVTOLs”, followed by a collaboration with Australian-based Microflite with a purchase of up to 40 eVTOLs.
• In July 2022 Swiss-based Dufour Aerospace announced it had partnered with V-Star Powered Lift Aviation to fly the eight-seat piloted Aero3 aircraft, with a targeted cruising speed of 350 km/h (215 mph), a range of up to 1,020 km (630 mi), and a useful load of 750 kg (1,650 lb)on regional routes throughout Australia. Certification is planned for 2025.

Press reports suggest all-electric flights are planned from Sydney to Canberra three times a day and over the Great Barrier Reef by 2026, following the deal between Sydney Seaplanes, Nautilus and Eve Air Mobility to fly 60 eVTOLs in Australian airspace by 2026. Tourism flight operator Nautilus – with bases in Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville, Horn Island and Darwin - plans to fly 10 Eve’s eVTOLs on scenic flights over the Great Barrier Reef and other tourist attractions. Sydney Seaplanes will also take delivery of 50 Eve eVTOLs by 2026 to fly new routes from the company’s Rose Bay terminal (subject to community consultation). Sydney Seaplanes currently operates inter-urban flights from its Rose Bay terminal to destinations such as Palm Beach in Sydney’s north.

Australia is also embracing the concept of using eVTOLs in medical and healthcare roles. In November 2020 aeromedical charity CareFlight and eVTOL aircraft developer AMSL Aero – manufacturer of the Vertiia airborne ambulance - teamed up in Sydney to launch a new eVTOL air ambulance service to tackle rural and regional healthcare inequality in the country.The programme is part of a AD3 million Cooperative Research Centres Project grant from the federal government, for a two-year collaborative project with the University of Sydney and autonomy and sensing specialists, Mission Systems. Test flights were planned to take place at the company’s facility in Narromine Airport in regional New South Wales.

In early September 2022 AMSL Aero announced it had received AD23 million on private equity funding to develop its 300kmph Vertila eVTOL, with a range of 1,000 km in its hydrogen-powered version. According to a report in the Australian Financial Review : If the aircraft are adopted for commuting between regional areas and cities….people at the outset could expect to pay about USD130 for a trip from Melbourne to Geelong on a 15-minute flight. In NSW, a trip from Sydney to Terrigal would be similar.”


All active programmes in Australia

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