In the third of three AAM Webinars, RTCA took a deep dive into the different paths required for crewed, partially crewed and completely autonomous operations when moving from concept of operations to operational deployment. RTCA President and CEO Terry McVenes hosted this discussion in May with industry experts Erick Corona, Director of ConOps and Airspace Ecosystem Development with all-electric, self-flying eVTOL air taxi company, Wisk Aero LLC; Amber Harrison, Regulatory Counsel at instant delivery and logistics company Zipline; and Ruby Sayyed, Acting Director, ATM Infrastructure, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
As the industry buzzes with talk of AAM, McVenes said he sees this as the next inflection point of change in an industry expending a great deal of energy into the topic and garnering political and legislative support.
The discussion began with Harrison describing Zipline’s globally tested, long range fixed wing parachute delivery system, which launches a 55-pound package at a max rate of 56 knots, with a two-hour endurance and recovery via a rarity line, and Zipline’s urban platform, which uses a fixed wing helicopter with droid delivery (flyzipline.com). Corona described Wisk Aero’s Gen 6 aircraft, which he expects to become the first autonomous, certified four passenger air taxi, with a range of 90 miles, a traveling speech of 110-120 knots and a charge time of 15 minutes (wisk.aero).
McVenes asked Sayyed for IATA’s perspective on what these examples of AAM will mean to the aviation ecosystem. She said that IATA was looking at this in two different ways: the flight and passenger journey perspective, and the technological advancement perspective, as the industry will need to think differently about infrastructure and interconnectivity, as well as what will be needed to enable this technology. She stressed looking at this from a global harmonization perspective and a thorough examination of how changes disrupt the whole system, likening it to operating the latest Ferrari on a road full of vintage cars. Do we rethink the road or upgrade and update it, she asked, urging parties to think outside the box and remember that there is a learning curve on both sides.
McVenes directed the discussion through detect and avoid technologies, digital flight rules, the effects of weather, the pace of standards and how to tweak existing standards, additional capabilities panelists see in the future, integration and new players, how to build trust, future infrastructure needs, the FAA’s roadmap forward, and how to seek international coordination.
If you missed this or any webinar, please visit rtca.org/events/virtual-events. RTCA’s next webinar will be July 19. As always, RTCA would like to thank Webinar series Gold Sponsors Collins Aerospace and NATCA.