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Successful Inaugural AAM Workshop Outlines Current, Mid- and Long-Term Horizon Needs

January 20, 2023
Home / News / Successful Inaugural AAM Workshop Outlines Current, Mid- and Long-Term Horizon Needs

On the inauspicious morning of FAA’s system outage halting U.S. departures, more than 50 aviation professionals were gathered in Washington, DC to create some good news for the aviation ecosystem:  RTCA’s first-ever Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Workshop.  Participants joined working groups in the morning and prepared the following report-outs to the entire assembled group in the afternoon:

Flight Operations—Heidi Williams of NBAA National Business Aviation Association noted that it is critical to have the FAA and a wide range of players in the room as standards and digital flight rules are developed to outline what cooperation looks like and utilize data in a robust discussion of vehicle-to-vehicle operations.  The group looked at separation standards, weather detection and avoidance, ATC ConOps concerns, vertiport standards, spectrum issues, enhanced/hybrid air traffic services, and qualifications of pilots and operators.  The group recognized the work of SC-206:  Aeronautical Information and Meteorological Data Link Services, as it relates to flight operations.

Lift/Thrust—Mark Blackwell of SkyDrive, Inc. presented the discussions for his group.  They called for clearer definitions of lift/thrust, having RTCA fill in the gaps not covered by other standards, identifying AAM aspects not addressed by current fixed wing or rotorcraft standards, and studying the impact of bird strikes on lift/thrust units.

Safety & Security—Tom Ferrell of Joby Aviation presented the groups concerns with creating and modifying standards for uncrewed operations.  They suggested educating third parties to get Congressional, traditional industry, and public buy-in.  Ferrell urged the group to optimize what is already in existence and to coordinate standards to look towards system, operational, and product safety, interoperability, high-density operations, and current safety and security standards as they relate to AAM use cases.  The group suggested the creation of white papers and outreach to publications as early as possible.

Avionics—Tom Pack of ACR Group Electronics discussed updating current standards and making modifications for ConOps and operating environments.  The group sees great innovations and the ability to be flexible as addendums to MOPS can be created.  In the near-term through 2030, they suggested the implementation of modifications, to study database commonalities, and creating detect and avoid capabilities. In the far term, they noted the concern with spectrum, interoperability, the use of multiple systems between manufacturers, mixed fleet operators, and information exchange between systems.  In the end, this group suggested the creation of a white paper on avionics, a future workshop on ConOps, and taking a look at existing bandwidth and spectrum requirements.

Concept of Operations—Ben Ivers of The Boeing Company said we should look at piloted and uncrewed eVTOL that utilize traditional air traffic services now through approximately 2026.  In the mid-term through 2030, we should look at higher density operations, remotely piloted AAM, vertiports and other infrastructure, and enhanced/hybrid air traffic services.  Beyond 2030, we may be dealing with fully digital air traffic services, fully autonomous vehicles, and very high density AAM operations.  The group felt the need to consolidate ConOps by examining air traffic controller needs, developing an accepted glossary of terms, and holding further discussions on pilot rating and training.

Ground Operations and Infrastructure—Chris Oswald of ACI-NAAirports Council International – North America said his group assessed the areas where standards may be needed.  The group considered how AAM operations will fit into existing commercial service airports, including final approach and take-off areas, taxiway standards, AAM vehicle parking, passenger facilities, maintenance facilities, connectivity to existing infrastructure, physical security, weather sensors, and air traffic/vertiport surveillance capabilities.  To integrate AAM, the group said airspace operations,  obstruction management, refueling and charging, passenger loading and unloading, cargo handling, ground staff handling requirements, security screening, rescue and firefighting, and noise and environmental concerns all need to be looked at.  Like others, this group also suggested that this topic is ripe for a white paper.

At the conclusion of the workshop, RTCA President Terry McVenes praised the work of participants and promised after-actions that include analyzing who should be included in further talks and reaching out to engage others.  Moving forward, says McVenes, “this workshop will become part of an ongoing conversation and series of additional workshops as the industry takes ideas brought forth to heart and improves processes.”  RTCA would like to thank all participants.

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