US government forms team to set AAM strategy
Developing a new US strategy for advanced air mobility (AAM) and engaging the public are the aims of a US interagency team formed by the Biden Administation. The team, including experts from NASA, FAA and the Transport and Security Administration, will address automation, security, air traffic, infrastructure and community roles, according to the US Department of Transportation (DoT).
The department wants to hear from the public and stakeholders “on the critical issues of importance in drafting a national AAM strategy”. Specifically the department wants to receive feedback on: what should be addressed in the AAM national strategy; what respondents believe are existing barriers to success of AAM implementation; and what steps should the Federal Government focus on in the short (two to three years), medium (four to eight years), and long term (more then eight years) in order to maximise the potential for successful AAM implementation in the US.
The arrival of the global AAM industry is near and the US is one of the regions it is more likely to scale in first. Although acting FAA administrator Billy Nolen has said the agency does not expect the first eVTOL to begin commercial operations until late 2024 or early 2025. California-based eVTOL developer, Joby Aviation will be operating all-but-commercially under a military contract as early as next year.
The DoT’s request for information will also look at a number of other areas including most likely use cases, safety enhancements, role of local governments, power requirements and supply chain. On power requirements, the team will assess the ability of municipal power grids to accommodate the anticipated demand to see what improvements or investments are needed to enable operations. There will also be exploration into how AAM could use alternative forms of energy for propulsion, such as hydrogen, and the infrastructure requirements that would come with these alternative power structures.
Earlier this month the FAA issued an updated blueprint for accommodating AAM operations in the national airspace. The FAA said that under the blueprint, similar to helicopters, air taxi operations will begin at a low rate and use existing routes and infrastructure such as helipads and vertiports.
The FAA is separately developing a powered-lift operations rule for certifying pilots and operating requirements to fly eVTOLs. The agency expects to publish the proposal this summer. Read more about the new strategy here. Pictured above: Joby will begin delivering a select number of its aircraft to the US Air Force in the first quarter of 2024. (Credit: Joby)