St. Baker advises millions on Australian long-range electric vertical take-off technology

Vertical electric aircraft launch.  Source: Vertia

Coal baron and self-described “futurist” Trevor St. Baker has thrown his financial weight behind distributed electrification once again, this time supporting Australian electric plane start-up, AMSL Aero.

St. Baker will give $5 million through its St. Baker Energy Innovation Fund to AMSL Aero โ€“ the company behind ‘Vertiia’, which claims to be the world’s most efficient electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft technology.

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The investment from StBEIF is part of a $23 million Series A funding round, which attracted big name co-investors including IP Group, Telstra Super and Hostplus.

AMSL Aero’s Vertia eVTOL is powered by pure electricity and hydrogen fuel and is touted to be the first eVTOL capable of flying 1,000km.

AMSL Aero says its patented technology and use of hydrogen and fuel cells set it apart from competitors, promising the Vertia will travel faster and use less energy.

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Vertiia is designed to travel at a speed of 300 kmph and travel 250 km completely on battery power.

Like other eVTOLs, it takes off vertically like a helicopter, thus eliminating the need for a runway and โ€“ in this way โ€“ potentially revolutionising personal and emergency transport.

Two years ago, AMSL launched a prototype of its Vertiia eVTOL in Sydney, in partnership with air-rescue organisation CareFlight, which it claims is the world’s first electric air ambulance.

At the time, Michael McCormack, then Deputy PM of Australia and leader of the National Party, compared the Vertia prototype to the “futuristic technology” in the 1960s Hanna-Barbera cartoon, The Jetsons.

In fact, eVTOL technology is now so advanced that several major industrial giants are putting their weight and R&D resources into advancing other zero-emissionsโ€”and potentially, zero-pilotโ€”aviation technologies.

St Baker’s interest in the EVTOL industry may have been fueled by his exposure to it through another Australian company – electric vehicle charging infrastructure success story, Tritium.

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In April this year, Tritium partnered with Hyundai on the world-first flying taxi hub “Air-One” in Coventry, UK, to install a 350kW fast charger at the “Vertiport” for Hyundai’s Supernal Aero EVTOL’s power trials.  .

StBEIF CEO Roger Whitby said on Wednesday that AMSL Aero attracted the fund’s attention because of the exceptional progress it has demonstrated, including plans to fly certified aircraft in the coming years.

“Founder is a pioneer of the electrical plane enterprise in Australia and at the leading edge of Australia’s destiny energy-green air delivery options,” Whitby said.

“Operating in an aggressive space, AMSL has a clean course to the aero market, which now no longer depends closely on validated technological advances.”

While the investment is the fund’s first in the aerospace sector, it complements other e-mobility companies in its portfolio, Whitby said.

“The investment aligns well with battery technology (Novonics), DC fast chargers (Tritium) and charge point operator (EV), all of which will play a role in providing the infrastructure to launch a successful EVTOL industry,” he said.

In turn, AMSL founders Andrew Moore and Siobhan Lyndon said they were attracted to StBEIF because its track record in overseeing high-tech companies “achieves many of the qualities of its early investments.”

“We are one step closer to bringing our innovative technology to market and revolutionising the transportation industry by creating the standard for green aircraft,” said Moore.

Vertiia is purpose-constructed for the aeromedical, emergency offerings and passenger markets and offers a new, more secure and greater lower priced transportation enterprise for the destination.

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One of St Baker’s biggest investments was the 1,320MW Wales Point coal-fired power plant, which was acquired by the NSW Government at a cost of just over $1 million.  The state’s oldest power plant is expected to operate at least until 2029.

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