The future of electric aviation in Australia: Deakin launches comprehensive white paper on possibilities and next steps
Deakin University has released a white paper that evaluates the opportunities and next steps for Advanced Aerial Mobility (AAM) in Australia, focusing on electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft in the passenger and freight context.
The latest instalment in the Deakin Mobility series, the study is a collaboration between the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI) and the Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics. It is the first and most comprehensive literature review and study of this nature, and analyses the regulatory challenges, operating potential and likely benefits of AAM and eVTOL.
As the world continues to urbanise, and as we move away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources, developing new and efficient transportation systems will be critical. To meet the challenge, industries and policy makers will need to develop new skills and change their mind-sets to make a successful transition.
Electric aviation is becoming a global movement, with significant recent advances attracting investors, companies and governments in the United States, Europe, Asia and closer to home in New Zealand, where they are set to begin passenger transport trials. In Australia, innovators have trialled drone delivery services, advancing the country's capabilities in low altitude airspace.
The landmark Deakin study confirms that AAM is a significant opportunity for Australia to develop its high-tech industry sector, with potential for employment and export growth.
As a complement to ground-based transport, many of the challenges related to traffic congestion can be significantly reduced by using airways effectively and efficiently. It could improve the travel times from regions to the cities, easing population pressures within the major cities and enhancing regional connectivity.
Areas that could benefit from this advancing technology include high priority freight and personal transport, markets which would enable new technical jobs and new sources of revenue.
The white paper identifies:
- potential market segments for eVTOL aircraft and the opportunities to manage those markets
- future infrastructure, airspace and land requirements; and
- directions for Australian research and development, including potential early trials.
It also details the challenges to widespread adoption in Australia, including regulation, safety, noise, community acceptance, locations and the research programs that will be needed to support development and testing. AAM will be less likely to succeed without cooperation across a wide range of stakeholders. The undertaking is complex, requiring a multidisciplinary approach by investors, regulators, entrepreneurs and governments.
Deakin is uniquely placed to contribute to this emerging industry, with its expertise and proven outcomes in advanced materials and battery technology – two areas of speciality that AAM relies on, with eVTOL aircraft needing lightweight, high value components and the latest in fuel cell technology.
Professor Doug Creighton, co-author of the white paper and Deputy Director of IISRI, emphasised that while the way forward presented many challenges, the possibilities were exciting.
"From developing a long-term vision for technology and telecommunications in the rail industry to tele-working at home as the new normal, Deakin Mobility is working to support the development of capabilities related to new mobility, including systems thinking, multi-stakeholder engagement strategies, understanding new technologies and services, and exploring entrepreneurial ideas for new market entrants," Professor Creighton said.
The white paper, 'Advanced Aerial Mobility and eVTOL aircraft in Australia: Promise and Challenges' can be downloaded from the IISRI website, where you can also join the discussion with Deakin Mobility.
Professor Doug Creighton
Deputy Director IISRI
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Senior Advisor Strategic Communications
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