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“First AAM operations in Australia in 2027; industry will develop in three waves” – AAUS

According to a new publication “AAM: Industry vision and roadmap” published by the Australian Association for Uncrewed Systems (AAUS), 2027 is the date the first of type AAM aircraft will be ready for operation in Australia. “With that said,” according to the publication,  “if the right ecosystem conditions can be established earlier, then this date could be brought forward, limited primarily by certification timelines and AAM manufacturer production rates.”

There will be three waves of AAM development, according to AAUS.

Wave one will see initial use cases will be those that can be directly accommodated within the existing air navigation system, requiring minimal regulatory change, and posing no, or minimal, impact on existing airspace use and communities. This is likely to include replacing helicopters on existing air tourism and private charter routes and utilising existing helicopter landing areas. Illustrative use cases of wave one include:

  • Theme park air tourism (Often referred to as “A to A” flights)
  • Charters from Melbourne city to regional areas (e.g., Yarra Valley wineries)
  • Sydney Harbour air tours
  • Ad hoc flights from major airports to existing helicopter landing sites Initial civil services

There will also be niche services likely to be focussed on community-good applications, in low complex and low impact environments.

  • Mail and medical services to Moreton Bay islands
  • Regular medical services to outlying rural towns (from a regional hub) Low-volume scheduled commuter Potentially high value but low volume scheduled services between a small network of fixed locations.

Other feasible early operations will be highly dependent on the geography, vertiport location relative to existing transport hubs (e.g., airports and train stations), and airspace design (e.g., where operations can be accommodated with minimal or no change).

  • Airport / transport hub connectors (e.g., Rose Bay seaplane terminal to Sydney Airport or Western Sydney Airport and Sunshine/Gold Coast Helipads to Brisbane Airport)
  • Geelong-Docklands cross-bay commuter service
  • Melbourne or Brisbane River helipad flights to airports

Defence It is expected that defence will be early adopters and evaluators of AAM aircraft for a wide array of use cases.

Regional Services Low rate Regional Air Mobility (RAM) operations (passenger and freight) will also be available.

  • Regional cargo and mail services (distribution hub-to-hub)
  • Regional passenger connectors (e.g., outlying towns to a regional-centre airport)

The second wave can be characterised as one of adaption and transition. A period defined by a series of small changes to the existing ecosystem that permit an incremental expansion in the scope of viable and supported AAM operations.  Urban Public Transport Scheduled urban public transport operations will begin. They are not expected to be cost-competitive with existing transport systems, but rather complement existing networks with new routes or a higher performance service (e.g., faster, service dependability, etc.). These initial “pilot” services are not expected to be commercially viable until scale is reached. Illustrative use cases include:

  • Commuter – Brisbane to Caloundra connector, Gold Coast Hinterland or Maleny to CBD or Airport
  • Sydney Airport to Bondi Junction shopping centre
  • Western Sydney Airport to Northern Beaches or Hawksbury area
  • Sorrento to Melbourne Central Business District Complex Civil Services

Urban civil services that require high dependability and customisation (e.g., onboard equipment) will begin.

  • Night time police patrols over urban areas where noise is a concern
  • Hospital patient transfers

Regional Air Mobility Improvements in the performance of AAM (e.g., through the introduction of hybrid and hydrogen propulsion systems, and improved battery technology) will open up a number of new use cases

  • Scheduled Melbourne to Ballarat connector service
  • Patient transfer services
  • Royal flying doctor services Private operations A much smaller, but in time growing, AAM use case will be private operations particularly in regional areas.

The third wave will see significant expansion in the coverage and capacity of scheduled passenger transport services across a growing network of urban and peri-urban vertiports.

  • City mass transport networks On-demand Air Taxi

On demand passenger and freight transportation services utilising a combination of public, public-commercial and private vertiports.

  • “Yellow Cabs” of aviation servicing cities

On-demand Urban Freight Similar to the Urban On-demand Air Taxi use case, flying equivalent high priority freight for courier companies. These will be focussed on hub-to-hub deliveries rather than last mile.

For more information


(Image: Australian government)

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