The future of urban air mobility will reach new heights as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is collaborating with NASA on their Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign. Yes, the future of “flying cars” may be closer than we think, as efforts to accelerate the realization of emerging aviation markets for passenger and cargo travel is looking up—literally.
Vaughn College discusses NASA’s vision as part of the Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign and how this evolving transportation system may become a reality sooner than you think due to a growing focus on environment sustainability. But first, let’s get you caught up on what urban air mobility is.
What is urban air mobility?
NASA defines urban air mobility (UAM) as a “system for air passenger and cargo transportation within an urban area, inclusive of small package delivery and other urban unmanned aircraft systems services.” In other words, NASA’s vision of this new era in air travel is to ensure safe and efficient air transportation as a revolutionary way of safely moving people and cargo from one place to another in congested environments. You can read more about this in our blog, Urban Air Mobility: Transforming Sky Transportation.
NASA’s vision for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) mission
Imagine beating traffic on the roadways by traveling in a revolutionary aircraft instead of driving? NASA’s vision is to help emerging aviation markets develop an air metro transportation system to move people and cargo between areas not previously served—or underserved—by aviation that uses revolutionary new aircraft. This project will provide a substantial benefit not only to the public but also to the industry. Here are some key points that align with NASA’s vision for AAM:
- Local and intraregional aviation missions are safe, sustainable, accessible and affordable.
- Ensures the program will include local missions of an approximate 50-mile radius in rural or urban areas, and a few hundred miles for intraregional missions that occur between urban areas as well as between rural areas—or between rural and urban areas.
- Missions include the transportation of passengers, cargo and aerial work missions, including infrastructure inspections or search and rescue operations.
Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign
Beginning in 2022, NASA will begin hosting a series of activities as part of its Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign. The campaign is designed to promote public confidence in the safety of AAM while capturing the imagination through community-wide learning. The series will provide industry insights to prospective vehicle manufacturers, operators and prospective airspace service providers. The series is also geared toward gathering industry partners that include aircraft manufacturers and airspace service providers.
The vehicles that make it happen
With all the excitement surrounding UAM, it’s time to focus on the vehicles that can ultimately make this vision a reality. The vision involves two factors—new aircraft designs and systems technologies. It’s anticipated that some of the new aircraft designs will include, for example, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities for metropolitan commutes. Thanks to the advancement of distributed electric propulsion (DEP) and the development of electric VTOLs (eVTOLs), it may be possible for these operations to be utilized more frequently, as well as in more locations. Industry professionals believe initial operations will be flown with a pilot in command (PIC) on board the VTOL aircraft. Looking to the future, sky transportation has the potential to becoming fully autonomous with remote PICs.
When will it happen?
According to a report recently published by ResearchAndMarkets.com, titled, “Urban Air Mobility Market Size, Share, Study By Component, By Operations By Range, And Segment Forecasts” air metro will be a viable market by 2028, and may well replace standard public transit options such as subways and buses, among other vehicles. The report cites that Europe is the fastest-growing region in the urban air mobility market. Additionally, the global urban air mobility market is expected to reach $7.9 billion by 2030. Several companies have developed eVTOL prototypes, which include Airbus A3, AIRSPACEX, Carter Aviation, Passenger Drone, Lilium Aviation, Volocopter, Aurora Flight Sciences (A Boeing Company), Joby Aviation, Workhorse, Delorean Aerospace, XTI Aircraft, AviaNovations and Embraer.
Vaughn’s readiness in AAM
We caught up with Dr. Hossein Rahemi, chair of Vaughn’s engineering and technology department regarding an exciting new unmanned aerial systems (UAS) certificate program that Vaughn is in the process of developing. “We have developed the curriculum and received New York State Department of Education approval for the new program, which will give students the knowledge and skills to be marketable in the growing field of air mobility.” He explained that this certificate program will cover design, construction, application, operation and system integration for unmanned aeriel vehicles (UAV). “Courses will cover topics such as introduction to UAV, drones’ rapid prototyping, drone law and remote piloting—where students will gain hands-on experience in designing, constructing and operating UAVs for specific applications,” Rahemi said. The Vaughn community is very excited about rolling out the new program in the coming months.
Vaughn’s mission is to provide a dynamic learning environment built on our aeronautical heritage that inspires a diverse and committed community of students to achieve success as leaders in the industries we serve. Rahemi went on to note that the the UAS certificate program carries out this mission by providing students with the skills, engineering and application-oriented education that will enhance their career opportunities in today’s aerospace, UAV and air mobility industries.