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Australia Takes Next AAM Step with the Introduction of Vertiport Guidelines

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Australia Takes Next AAM Step with the Introduction of Vertiport Guidelines

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has released a draft advisory circular for vertiport design in the latest step to pave the way for advanced air mobility (AAM) operations in the country.

The document is designed to provide guidelines for vertiport designers and developers, covering issues including site selection and downwash protection; physical characteristics; obstacle limitation surfaces; and visual aids, including markings, markers and lights. The specifications do not mandate a standard vertiport layout and are designed to evolve with the development of the AAM industry, with the initial focus on vertical take-off and landing (VTOL)-capable aircraft operated by a pilot onboard flying visual operations only, says CASA.

The draft is available for public comment until 31 March 2023, with the authority recognizing the “valuable contribution” of community and industry consultation in the regulatory development process. In particular, CASA is seeking feedback on whether the content and structure of the guidance is clear and sufficient and whether it is fit for purpose and able to support the development of infrastructure.

As part of the consultation process, CASA is holding four webinairs to provide background and explanatory information. The webinairs, to take place in December, January, February and March, will focus on an introduction to vertiports and the draft advisory circular; the physical characteristics of a vertiport; the obstacle limitation surfaces for a vertiport; and what visual aids are required, respectively.

Australian vertiport infrastructure company Skyportz welcomed the publication of the guidelines, saying it is a clear sign the country is preparing for AAM, following CASA’s earlier publication of an industry roadmap and recent funding for industry projects from the Federal Government. “We are really pleased about this announcement as it is sending a clear message to the world that we are open for business and we are seriously preparing the ecosystem to support AAM that will need our network of vertiports to fulfill their potential,” says Clem Newton-Brown, Skyportz CEO.

Skyportz has earmarked 400-plus potential vertiport sites owned by property partners, with Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane considered potential early markets. A vertiport design for Caribbean Park, Melbourne, was released by Skyportz and its partners earlier this year.

“These new guidelines will help us to fine-tune our design and will give our property partners the confidence to invest in vertiport infrastructure in advance of the aircraft starting to operate,” Newton-Brown says, adding Skyportz can now make a decision on where to locate the first network of vertiports.

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