All-electric flights from Sydney to Canberra could start operating three times a day from the second half of 2022, and over the Great Barrier Reef by 2026, thanks to new deals struck by two Australian short-haul flight operators.
Eve Urban Utility, a subsidiary of Brazilian electric vertical take off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft maker Embraer, has announced two separate deals with Australia’s Sydney Seaplanes and Nautilus that will see at least 60 zero-emissions aircraft in local skies from 2026.
Eve’s eVTOLs resemble helicopters, but instead of a main propellor above the cockpit and a secondary one on the tail, there are eight small propellor units on four wings with two rear propellors for forward thrust.
Tourism flight operator Nautilus, which has bases in Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville, Horn Island and Darwin and currently has 36 helicopters in operation, struck a deal on Saturday that will see 10 of Eve’s eVTOLs provided by 2026.
Nautilus plans to operate 100% electric scenic flights over the Great Barrier Reef and other iconic tourist attractions in line with parent company Morris Group’s plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2030.
The 10 Eve eVTOLs will allow the company to bolster its Advanced Ecotourism Certification that it has held for eight years, enabling it at last to avoid its biggest impact on carbon emissions – burning aviation fuel.
“We believe economic success and environmental sustainability go hand-in-hand and aim to strengthen and enrich the environments in which we work,” said Morris Group CEO Chris Morris in a statement.
“Eve’s eVTOL technology will integrate seamlessly into our operations to deliver a range of exciting zero-emission tourism experiences.”
Similarly, a deal announced this week between Eve and Sydney Seaplanes will see the latter take delivery of 50 eVTOLs by 2026, and which will be used to launch 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.
“Sydney needs a post-COVID lift and what better way to do that than by developing high-tech and zero carbon jobs that support transport, tourism and the vibrancy of this wonderful city,”said Aaron Shaw, CEO of Sydney Seaplanes in a statement.
“Eve’s eVTOL technology will integrate seamlessly with our electric amphibious fleet to deliver a range of tourism and commuter journeys.”
According to a report from the Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Seaplanes will trial its first eVTOL flight from Sydney Harbour to Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin next Tuesday. From September 2022, it wants to commence Sydney-Canberra flights three times a day.
Shaw says that the company also wants to use the eVTOLS to expand the company’s reach beyond Sydney’s iconic harbour to throughout the greater Sydney region.
Andre Stein, president and CEO of Eve says the urban air mobility startup will provide not only eVTOLs to Sydney Seaplanes but also air traffic management solutions, maintenance, training, and other services.
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.