Newly launched Australian start-up Wilbur Air has ambitious plans for electric aviation operations on the continent using an envisioned system of “mini-airports”. 

The fledgling operator is a subsidiary of Australian air taxi infrastructure developer Skyportz, which promises on its website to ”facilitate everything from heavy-lifting drone deliveries to short- and long-range passenger travel”. 

“Wilbur Air will be establishing operational partnerships across Australia with existing small charter and helicopter companies interested in moving into advanced air mobility and flying under the Wilbur Air brand with priority access to our Skyportz vertiports,” says Skyportz chief executive Clem Newtown-Brown.

Wilbur Air’s first publicly disclosed partner is Virginia-based Electra. 

”Under this partnership, Wilbur Air will operate the first 100 [Electra] aircraft in Australia,” Skyportz says. 

electra estol Wilbur Air

Source: Wilbur Air

Newly formed Wilbur Air is partnering with US aircraft developer Electra to establish hybrid-electric regional air operations in Australia 

Electra’s hybrid-electric short take-off and landing (eSTOL) aircraft concept has a “blown-lift” design that enables lift at relatively low speeds. 

The start-up says the craft will be capable of taking off from runways as short as 45m (150ft) and reaching speeds of 174kt (322km/h). Electra aims to certificate its eSTOL and begin delivering the aircraft to customers by the end of the decade. The eventual production aircraft will seat two pilots and nine passengers. 

“Our sustainable eSTOL aircraft is perfectly suited for Australia’s diverse geography, with its ability to access short airstrips in both urban and remote areas, while offering exceptional operational efficiency,” says chief product officer Marc Ausman. ”Electra looks forward to supporting Wilbur Air in enhancing regional connectivity, accessibility and environmental stewardship throughout Australia.” 

Skyportz says it is working to develop a network of vertiports for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft – tageting waterfront properties in particular – as well as a series of “mini airports” to support regional flights. 

“If all the aircraft do is fly from airports and helipads, then there will be no revolution,” says Newton-Brown. “We need to start developing vertiports in new locations now.”