Australian government announces new funding for BVLOS drone and eVTOL research

Enhanced beyond line of visual sight (BVLOS) drone operations, electric aircraft charging systems, airspace regulation, hydrogen-powered aircraft and cargo drone operations are all research projects to received AUD13 million in federal funding, announced today.

“Funded under Round 2 of the Australian Government’s Emerging Aviation Technology Partnerships program, these projects will focus on supporting technology that can grow manufacturing and the use of digital technology in farming, enhance regional connectivity with national supply chains, and improve outcomes for regional and remote First Nations communities,” said a government press release. “This includes investing in drones for use in humanitarian air and disaster recovery operations, delivering cargo services across regional and remote Australia, and transporting health products to First Nations communities across the Torres Strait. The funding will also invest in uncrewed aircraft, including trialling large remotely-piloted aircraft as an automated, zero-emissions solution for large-scale farm spraying in regional and remote areas. A number of projects will explore renewable or low emission energy sources for these aviation technologies, including developing an electric motor and high-powered electric aircraft charger. This builds on a AUD18 million investment for 12 projects under the program’s first round, which is already supporting critical projects such as air ambulance trials in regional Australia and developing a more efficient propeller design for emerging and traditional aircraft.”

Round 2 funded projects 

Recipient Project description Location
AMSL Aero Pty Ltd Flight testing and regional demonstrations of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, including research to address regulatory barriers related to hydrogen powered eVTOL operations. The project will also develop and demonstrate a hydrogen refuelling system to enable extended range and improve regional connectivity. VIC
Autospray Pty Ltd Research, develop and trial multiple large remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) operating in parallel to conduct 24/7 spraying operations on farms. The project will address regulatory barriers for, and reduce the cost of, automated large-scale zero emission farm spraying in regional and remote Australia. NSW
AvSoft Australia Pty Ltd Enhance beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) flight planning and day of operations tactical planning by developing information resources for uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) operators. The project will assist with Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) planning processes and improve situational awareness for UAV operators and piloted aviation. VIC, SA
Electro.Aero Pty Ltd Develop a high-powered electric aircraft charger with trials at a vertiport site to ensure alignment with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s Advisory Circular – Guidance on vertiport design. The project will determine best-practice charging infrastructure solutions, particularly for regional and remote use cases, to support manufacturing opportunities in the sector. WA
Jabiru Aircraft Pty Ltd Develop a prototype electric motor and related control system for crewed aircraft and load carrying fixed wing UAV. The project will perform test flights using a Jabiru airframe and establish supply chains to support local manufacturing capability in Australia. QLD
Li-S Energy Ltd Develop a prototype fixed-wing drone with solar and battery integration to enable extended flight duration without recharging or landing. The project will deliver improvements in UAV battery efficiency compared to existing lithium ion batteries and support manufacturing pathways for the technology in Australia. QLD, NSW, VIC
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Develop a digital toolkit for air risk analysis to accelerate regulatory processes and airspace initiatives for emerging aviation technology. The project will integrate terrain, weather, air traffic and other aeronautical aviation data to characterise airspaces by risk and visually display these to share with airspace users including drone operators. QLD
Raindance Systems Pty Ltd Develop an aerial drone incendiary system and conduct controlled burn trials in the Kimberley region and Kakadu National Park. The project will be delivered in partnership with Traditional Owners to support land management outcomes, particularly in First Nations communities. NT, WA
Revolution Aerospace Pty Ltd Trial and pre-commercial drone delivery service for Indigenous communities across the Torres Strait, including health related products and services, and humanitarian air and disaster recovery operations. The project will support CASA to advance regulatory processes for complex SORA operations and improve supply chains and connectivity in regional and remote communities. QLD
Stralis Aircraft Pty Ltd Convert a small single-engine passenger aircraft into a hydrogen-electric aircraft to demonstrate the benefits and capabilities of zero-emission propulsion technology for regional transport applications. The project will undertake a flight test campaign with regional demonstrations. QLD
Macquarie University Design, build and test a sub-scale uncrewed flight demonstrator to showcase aerodynamic circulation control suitable for an all-electric air cargo aircraft. The project will enable development of a commercial fixed-wing drone with improved range and payload capabilities, and demonstrate a viable path to affordable cargo delivery services across regional and remote Australia. NSW, VIC
Wedgetail Aerospace Pty Ltd Establish a drone operation hub at Karratha Airport and conduct trials of resupply by drone from, and between, regional centres. The project will verify and validate cargo delivery processes and procedures to improve the safety and efficiency of operating larger drones BVLOS. WA


For more information

(Image: Australian government)

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