On February 9, Helicopter Association International (HAI) featured RTCA President and CEO Terry McVenes in an interactive webinar entitled Digital Flight Operations for UAM. McVenes presented RTCA’s view as the industry looks to the future needs of the transportation ecosystem, taking into account new and emerging technologies in AAM that require a fresh look at standards to ensure the safety of the NAS. UAM integration will also require continued cooperation between ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), FAA Technical Standards Orders (TSOs), Aviation Rule Making Committees (ARCs), NASA, the private sector, and legacy aviation, said McVenes.
Among the benefits these new technologies can provide involve safety benefits for all aircraft operations, including the legacy side of aviation; the potential to end common accident causes such as loss of control and controlled flight into terrain (CFIT); fuel management improvements; infrastructure additions, particularly to existing airports; and security and economic benefits.
McVenes believes, as we continue down this path, participants need to focus on both vehicle capability and vehicle integration challenges and what increased commoditization of airspace, coupled with an increasing number of users, will mean, namely the necessity of creating differing rules to access airspace. In addition, it is important to take a look at scalability concerns and delve into cloud clearance and visibility requirements based on aircraft capabilities. McVenes also spoke on the gap RTCA is exploring between VFR and IFR. In this realm, he cautioned against taking long periods of time to get meaningful work accomplished, believing we need to get the industry to coalesce around a common set of principles and ideas to help bring new capabilities in the NAS quicker and more efficiently. Without a long-term vision, near-term parochial interests will result in conflicts, said McVenes, while the benefits of proceeding with a cohesive, forward-thinking vision include enabling technologies and capabilities such as high-quality navigation, upgraded digital NAS information, accurate digital autopilots, increased intent sharing, enhanced detect and avoid, facilitated cooperative operating practices, and approved safety-critical third-party service providers.
McVenes called for action to provide industry endorsement of Digital Flight Operations (DFO) concepts and feedback to FAA and NASA, industry briefs from NASA, FAA, R&D, and industry proponents, and, for RTCA, a Forum for Digital Flight Operations ahead of the release of a future white paper for the industry and regulators. Following Terry’s presentation, HAI’s Director of Public Relations and Communications, Dan Sweet, opened the floor for questions. McVenes and Sweet covered topics including predictions on possible retrofits to existing aircraft, how best to collaborate to develop harmonized international standards, and 5G challenges and the allocation of future aviation spectrum.
For more information on HAI, visit rotor.org. If you missed this webinar or would like to view others, visit rotor.org/webinar. HAI holds webinars on the second and fourth Thursdays at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time.