Aus­tralia released last week two reports under the title ‘Avi­a­tion Green Paper — Towards 2050’ con­firm­ing the coun­try aims to take a lead­ing Advanced Air Mobil­i­ty (AAM) role in the Pacif­ic Region. The Paper also sug­gests the Gov­ern­ment hopes to play a key role in coor­di­nat­ing and financ­ing such AAM oper­a­tions.

The Green Paper, released by the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment, states, “The emer­gence of new tech­nolo­gies allows Aus­tralia to pro­vide lead­er­ship in the region and strength­en part­ner­ships with like-mind­ed gov­ern­ments in the Pacif­ic and help those in the region to share in the ben­e­fits offered by emerg­ing avi­a­tion tech­nolo­gies.”

It con­tin­ues, “There is like­ly to be demand from these nations for the uptake of drones and AAM, where Aus­tralia has already received requests for sup­port to facil­i­tate such tech­nolo­gies. There may be Gov­ern­men­tal ben­e­fits to boost engage­ment in the Pacif­ic by sup­port­ing the uptake of emerg­ing avi­a­tion tech­nolo­gies across the region.”

The Paper also sug­gests that “pri­vate sec­tor cap­i­tal will need to dri­ve inno­va­tion and man­u­fac­tur­ing, where gov­ern­ment may cre­ate a favourable invest­ment envi­ron­ment.”

The Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment is seek­ing stake­hold­er input on these two reports, the pre­cur­sor to an Avi­a­tion White Paper, sched­uled to be released in mid-2024 to set the country’s pol­i­cy direc­tion for the sec­tor through to 2050.

The gov­ern­ment antic­i­pates that crewed AAM will enter ser­vice in the coun­try by 2030 and envi­sions pub­lic accep­tance and tech­nol­o­gy use to grow rapid­ly through­out that decade. By 2050, it fore­casts there could be around 37 mil­lion pas­sen­ger trips annu­al­ly using AAM, pri­mar­i­ly replac­ing road-based trans­port and boost­ing region­al air con­nec­tiv­i­ty.

The Paper says, “Over the long term, it is pos­si­ble that AAM ser­vices will improve region­al air con­nec­tiv­i­ty and enable new point-to-point net­works and on-demand ser­vices for short air routes.” It is believed that such emerg­ing avi­a­tion tech­nolo­gies “will trans­form the avi­a­tion sec­tor” and there­fore, “it is essen­tial that pol­i­cy and reg­u­la­to­ry set­tings are able to sup­port and encour­age their adop­tion.”

The gov­ern­ment points to oppor­tu­ni­ties for its avi­a­tion man­u­fac­tur­ing indus­try, where around 600 Aus­tralian busi­ness­es are involved. 

Exam­ples include West­ern Aus­tralia-based Electro.Aero, which has been at the fore­front of devel­op­ments in charg­ing and stor­age tech­nolo­gies for elec­tric air­craft, and Fly­OnE that devel­oped the country’s first elec­tric avi­a­tion charge node net­work and is devel­op­ing a long-range, four-seat elec­tric air­craft designed for air taxi ser­vices.

The gov­ern­ment is already invest­ing in emerg­ing tech­nol­o­gy through pro­grams, such as the Com­mu­ni­ty STEM Engage­ment Grants, Coop­er­a­tive Research Cen­tres projects and the Emerg­ing Avi­a­tion Tech­nol­o­gy Part­ner­ship Pro­gram. Also, the AUS15 bil­lion Nation­al Recon­struc­tion Fund (NRF) is expect­ed to be avail­able for emerg­ing avi­a­tion tech­nol­o­gy and the gov­ern­ment is look­ing to cre­ate an envi­ron­ment that fos­ters pri­vate invest­ment in such tech­nol­o­gy.

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Mean­while, the Paper points out there is a greater need for inter­gov­ern­men­tal coor­di­na­tion on avi­a­tion issues that has not been seen before. 

It says, “While air­space man­age­ment will remain the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment, improved coor­di­na­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion could be facil­i­tat­ed by a nation­al approach to man­ag­ing drone rules between the Gov­ern­ment and state, ter­ri­to­ry and local gov­ern­ments. This would build upon work already under­way in the Com­mon­wealth, States and Ter­ri­to­ries Drones Work­ing Group, to con­sid­er a frame­work to allow for col­lab­o­ra­tion and coor­di­na­tion across all lev­els of Gov­ern­ment on the devel­op­ment, man­age­ment and enforce­ment of rules relat­ed relat­ed to drones across juris­dic­tions.”

The impor­tance of Ver­ti­port con­struc­tion is also  allud­ed to in the Paper. It states, “Ver­ti­ports placed at con­ve­nient, prac­ti­cal loca­tions will be essen­tial to ful­ly realise the ben­e­fits of AAM, and the gov­ern­ment will have a role in ensur­ing appro­pri­ate guid­ance, stan­dards and reg­u­la­tion are in place to ensure the high­est lev­els of safe­ty, but also to ensure they are prop­er­ly equipped to sup­port the tech­nol­o­gy.”

(Sky­portz Graph­ic Image of Pro­posed Ver­ti­port: Cred­it — Sky­portz)

CASA has estab­lished the ‘Ver­ti­port Design and Oper­a­tions Tech­ni­cal Work­ing Group’ to ensure it can pro­vide suit­able safe­ty guid­ance to sup­port indus­try in iden­ti­fy­ing, procur­ing and design­ing ver­ti­ports in time for an esti­mat­ed mid-2025 com­mence­ment of com­mer­cial oper­a­tions.

This work­ing group will also advise on options for reg­u­la­to­ry over­sight of ver­ti­ports. Ear­li­er this year, the gov­ern­ment estab­lished an ‘Advanced Air Mobil­i­ty Con­sul­ta­tive Com­mit­tee’ to devel­op an AAM Strat­e­gy, with the com­mit­tee being the key liai­son point for gov­ern­ment to engage with indus­try.

The Green Paper is open for com­ment until Novem­ber 30th. The gov­ern­ment plans to engage with indus­try stake­hold­ers through a series of round­table ses­sions dur­ing the next two months which will lead to the pub­li­ca­tion of a White Paper in mid-2024.

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