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If You Build It They Will Come

Preparing For Urban Air Mobility

By: Rex Alexander

Would you believe that there are over 175 different concepts currently being considered in the Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) aircraft arena. With as many as two new concepts coming out every week, according to the Vertical Flight Society, keeping up with the advancements has become a major challenge.  Concept maturity ranges from those in their infancy stage of design to others being flown and in full testing mode. When you try to account for the fact that the conceptual designs being considered range from one end of the aerodynamic spectrum to the other the whole thing can be rather intimidating. That being said, the expectation of actually having a viable aircraft on the flight line conducting business may only be 3-4 years away. That then begs the question, how do we get from here to there safely?

For this reason, Urban Air Mobility has been an extremely hot topic of discussion at this year's EAA Airventure. Groups weighing in on the subject include some of aviationís heaviest hitters, to include NASA, FAA, EAA, General Aviation Manufactures Association, Vertical Flight Society, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assortation, not to mention the likes of Uber, Joby Aviation, Google, Amazon, UPS and many, many others.

Where will these new aircraft land and takeoff from?  Who will have oversight? How will they be regulated? How will the pilots be certificated and most importantly how will they be integrated with the rest of aviation to maintain some semblance of inclusivity with General Aviation and achieve not only a respectable safety record but one that is unparalleled in aviation history? These are all questions that have been brought up and batted around by experts at Oshkosh this week.

One of the groups that is helping to spearheading this discussion at Oshkosh this year is the Lindbergh Foundation who is hosting the Innovation Forum for Urban Air Mobility. On Tuesday the executive round table discussions included such topics as advancements in hydrogen fuel cells, electric motor propulsion advancements, regulations, airspace, and infrastructure. Key themes within the discussion centered around ideas of Scalability for Simplicity, inter aircraft connectivity and hyper reliability.

(Image provided by author: [L-R] Eric Bartsch, CEO, VerdeGo Aero/ Ryan Naru, Vehicle Standards Leader, Uber Elevate / Robert LaBelle, CEO, XTI Aircraft / Craig Hoover, Advanced Technology and Hybrid Electric Pursuits Leader, GE Aviation/ Bruce Holmes, Director Alakaíi Technologies )

FMI: lindberghfoundation.org

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