The planned commencement of new electric UAM (urban air mobility) operations in Australia in 2026 is gaining momentum, with three Australian helicopter companies having signed tentative orders for a total of 90 electric take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft being produced by Embraer's Eve Air Mobility (Fort Lauderdale International) unit.

According to announcements by the Brazilian manufacturer, it signed letters of intent at the Singapore Air Show (February 15-18, 2022) with Western Australia's Aviair (GD, Kununurra) and HeliSpirit – part of the HM Consolidated Group – for 50 eVTOL aircraft, as well as with Melbourne-based Microflite Helicopter Services for 40 of the type.

This follows an earlier commitment from Sydney Seaplanes for 50 eVTOL aircraft.

Aviair and HeliSpirit serve Western Australian tourist attractions in the Kimberley, South-West, and Greater Perth regions. They already operate a fleet of more than 50 rotary and fixed-wing aircraft.

Commenting on the deal, Aviair and HeliSpirit Managing Director, Michael McConachy, said the low-noise footprint of the eVTOL aircraft made them "particularly well-suited to operations in sensitive natural settings, including national parks and World Heritage-listed areas, as well as for urban transfers providing quick and efficient solutions for both business and tourism travellers".

Microflite Helicopter Services operates the largest fleet of turbine helicopters in Victoria, focused on premium tours, charter flights, pilot training, and emergency services.

"After working closely with Eve over the past few months, we have identified a network of potential routes, and we look forward to working with commercial partners and communities to prioritise these routes and trial selected operations with our existing fleet," explained Chief Executive Officer, Jonathan Booth.

The new commitments were a significant milestone for Eve, said Chief Executive Officer Andre Stein. The agreement with Aviair and HeliSpirit opened up an important market in Western Australia, while the Microflite partnership would be a proof of concept that would define future eVTOL operations.

The companies said their new partnerships aimed to develop new services and procedures to create a safe and scalable operating environment for eVTOL operations together with communities and other industry stakeholders.

Stein said the agreement with Microflite would see progressive commencement of carbon-neutral operations in the lead-up to first deliveries of zero-emission aircraft in 2026. "We look forward to learning together and building safe and scalable operations with the support of local communities," he concluded.