On The Radar
Ten aviation industry groups, led by the Vertical Flight Society, have jointly written to the U.S. government, urging it to continue its support for development of eVTOL aircraft and urban air mobility (UAM) initiatives. In a letter sent on November 13, 2019, the groups praise the Trump Administration for including the sector in a White House Policy Memorandum called Fiscal Year 2021 Administration Research and Development Budget Priorities. The letter promotes the opportunity for U.S. industry presented by what the groups call "The Electric VTOL Revolution."
The letter is one of the first actions of the new UAM Coordinating Council, which was formed following the September 2019 VFS Workshop on Defining Challenges. The group intends to combine forces in fostering a better understanding of what the sector has to offer and needs to be successful. It consists of representatives from the following organizations: the Aerospace Industries Association, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Composites Manufacturers Association, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the Community Air Mobility Initiative, the Commercial Drone Alliance, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the National Air Transportation Association, the National Business Aviation Association and the Vertical Flight Society.
The letter is addressed to Dr. Kevin Droegemeier, director, and Michael Kratsios, chief technology officer, of the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy, and to Russell Vought, acting director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.
While expressing gratitude for being included in the White House-endorsed list of R&D priorities for the federal government, the UAM Coordinating Council warns that the U.S. does not have a free run at achieving leadership in this sector. It points out that multiple companies and agencies across the Asia Pacific region, Europe, and the Middle East are making significant investments to advance their industries. The letter advises, "To ensure American leadership in this sector, there must be a full commitment from all levels of government and coordination within and between the agencies."
Specifically, the group urges the Trump Administration to ensure that "departments and agencies continue focusing on the following immediate areas as they continue their important work on UAM":
- Research: Ongoing research programs, such as NASA’s UAM Grand Challenge, NREL’s renewable energy initiatives, and MITRE’s airspace integration work, are critical to providing demonstrated data that accelerates informed regulatory, policy, and standards decisions.
- Standards: Reinforcement of OMB Circular A-119, and application of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act, will significantly promote the ability of federal agencies to consistently participate in and reference voluntary consensus standards. Support for these acts will maximize the government’s resources and the timeliness and relevance of the participating organizations.
- Certification: The FAA’s Certification Office is currently working with industry on the certification of UAM-enabling systems and aircraft. The FAA must continue to work with industry on performance-based paths to certification for these aircraft and provide industry flexibility in the design of aircraft, provided they meet the safety cases determined by the FAA.
- Workforce Development: As integration of this new transportation option increases, a new ecosystem of jobs will be generated. It will create a workforce of the future that will not only be a part of the companies that manufacture and design these vehicles but also work to support the operations of the vehicles in our communities. Additionally, a new and existing workforce will require adequate education, training, and credentialing.