On May 23, RTCA hosted the third of three AAM Workshops. The day included an FCC Project Overview with Ryan Steinbach of the DOT Office of Aviation Analysis, two group discussions on FAA UAM ConOps V2.0 and on RTCA’s White Paper, and concluded with participation in Aviation Week’s Network Webinar.
In the morning, participants dove into a presentation on creating the transportation system of the future, which seeks participation from the Departments of Transportation, Commerce, Defense Homeland Security, Energy, Labor, and Agriculture, as well as FCC and NASA. The purpose of the AAM Interagency Working Group (IWG) would be to work together to grow new transportation options, amplify economic activity and jobs, advance environmental sustainability and new technologies, and support emergency preparedness and competitiveness. The group would outline parameters and timelines, then develop recommendations and detail roles and responsibilities. Finally, when consensus is reached, the IWG would enact this national strategy with departments working toward shared goals and defined measures of success. To view the morning’s slide show, click here.
The group then discussed the UAM Concept of Operations (ConOps) v2.0 plan that was developed with input from FAA, NASA, and industry partners. It expands on the June 2020 1.0 version and includes a set of operations that leverage the current regulatory framework and rules such as VFR and IFR. The 2.0 version is guided by a crawl-walk-run approach that will allow entry of new aircraft types, increased frequency of UAM operations and new operational rules and infrastructure as UAM continues to mature. The updated ConOps reflects the continued maturation of UAM and incorporated feedback from the 1.0 version as it outlines the scope, operating environment perspectives, definitions, principles and assumptions, roles and responsibilities, and other factors to consider, such as weather and obstacles within the UAM environment, departure considerations, in-flight phases, and post-operations considerations. To view the ConOps 2.0 plan, click here.
The next agenda item at the AAM Workshop was a group discussion on a white paper that would provide the results detailed in the three RTCA AAM Workshops. Members discussed the background that would go into the paper, its scope, additional resources needed, potential standards to develop, how R&D contributes to these standards, and what barriers need to be addressed. More to come on this paper in future issues of The Digest.
Finally, Workshop participants participated in the Aviation Week Webinar entitled “Safety Continuum: Understanding the FAA’s Approach to eVTOLs.” Aviation Week’s AMM Report Editor, Ben Goldstein, led a panel discussion with Sergio Cecutta, Founder and Partner, SMG Consulting, Jeffrey Vincent, Executive Director of UAS Integration Office, FAA and John Illson, Chief Safety Officer at Supernal. They discussed the FAA’s ‘Safety Continuum’ approach to eVTOLs, how harmony can be achieved with international regulators, and what the path to autonomous passenger-carrying operations would look like. Jeffrey said the group needs to understand the importance of manufacturers and the importance of not having opposing processes between FAA, EUROCAE, EASA, and others. He reminded participants that air traffic evolved over time, and we will see passenger carrying services proceeding like a trickle and not an avalanche. John urged participants to understand risks, maintain a working relationship with FAA, and how to achieve an appropriate level of safety while recognizing different authorities may require different certifications. He recognized the complex and difficult processes that come with new technologies and new propulsion systems and said the industry needs to take the time necessary to set up deliberate, serviceable operations. Sergio spoke about the more conservative attitude of Europe’s regulators and the need to understand the complexity of vehicles, the number of vehicles in the airspace, and the importance of the public feeling safe. In AAM, we may start from different places, but we have safety in common, he said. The group also discussed batteries, pitfalls, user expectations, weather concerns, gaps we need to identify, infrastructure concerns and other topics. To view this webinar, click here.