We’ve been working towards a consolidated aviation transportation system that relies on highly automated aircraft to operate and transport passengers or cargo within urban and suburban areas. Yes, we’re talking about Urban Air Mobility (UAM).
What’s the market forecast for this growing industry? What potential safety standards will manufacturers and service providers have to comply by? Come on-board! We’ll tell you more about the opportunities and challenges that this emerging industry currently faces as it ventures into full flight.
UAM falls under the wider Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) concept introduced by the NASA, but only focuses on transportation systems for passengers and cargo, in urban and suburban areas. This type of electric aircraft uses multiple electric-powered rotors or fans for lift and propulsion, and fly-by-wire systems for control. It performs taking off and landing vertically and can be remotely piloted or include a pilot on board.
Driven by current technological breakthroughs, the spread of UAM use for civil and commercial purposes, and considerable investments from emerging nations, the UAM market is projected to escalate quickly.
According to Berkley’s Transportation and Sustainability Research Center, urban and suburban areas could integrate UAM use due to the following current and potential opportunities:
Yes, we’re optimistic, but most importantly- prepare to cover all bases! This brings us to next points of focus: what should we consider to consolidate a robust preparedness plan and meet high safety standards?
As UAM technology quickly emerges, it’s never been more important to identify some potential challenges that could arise due to the development of:
As these developments take their course, implementing the right infrastructure to support UAM services will be key. For example, Vertihubs and Vertiports (vertical landing pads) to accommodate aircraft in lower-density residential communities. In addition to potential technological improvements like dynamic pricing, improved charging infrastructure and battery capacity.
Because the UAM industry has just taken full course in the discovery of its utmost potential, these are some of the regulatory aspects that will have to be continuously taken care of to manage and endorse the safety of all stakeholders:
Safety will only be a reality with the collaboration of local governments. These entities should consolidate a strong policy frame and regulatory environment for use and zoning, building, fire codes and law enforcement.
Also, all safety standards and regulations should work to assemble a preparedness plan for managing the following: flight outside approved airspace, unsafe proximity to people and/or property, critical system failure, flight control system failure and cybersecurity risks. Potential hazards such as, weather, human factors (i.e., loss of situational awareness) and passenger interference, should also be considered.
At the moment, each eVTOL OEM must be in agreement with a regulating body, such as the EASA for Europe, the American FAA, the English CAA, and the Chinese CAAC, regarding specific product requirements. The next step is defining and performing tests to prove their compliance.
Applus+ Laboratories testing campaigns can ensure both the effectiveness and efficiency of eVTOL use for inter and intra-city transportation. Which, as we have seen, requires full commitment to meet rigorous standards. Our full-scale facilities, expertise, and equipment can aid eVTOL operators in: