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Urban Air Mobility

Graham Lake looks at the revolution that UAM will herald.

The last decade has seen more than 200 companies investing in Urban Air Mobility (UAM). Even Airbus and Boeing are involved. Revolution is coming. Airports and air traffic management bodies recognise the trend and are exploring operating concepts. Several major airlines, including United and Delta have recently announced their intention to explore how UAM can be integrated into their operation. Coping with the numbers will be challenging. Airliners carry on average more than 150 passengers, each UAM as currently envisioned, will carry only four passengers.

Aviation is a highly regulated and rules-based activity, UAM need to be operated safely and quietly, and integrated into the existing air transport system. UAM vehicles will require separation from each other and from other airspace users with safe areas to operate from, cleared of light poles, trees, overhead cables, road vehicles, people and even birds. Vertiports (for UAM operations) have evolved as a concept, becoming local transport hubs, perhaps sited at railway stations, central business districts, sports grounds, shopping centres and of course airports. Each connecting into an integrated transport network. This will be hard. It is not a coincidence that some big names, including Amazon and Uber that previously flirted with UAM concepts, have stepped back.

More than ever before, city and municipal leaders will become involved in the UAM revolution. Determining where vertiports will be located, and how they will be safely integrated into the local transport infrastructure to meet demand. Airlines, airports and UAM manufacturers recognise that new, safe and efficient UAM infrastructure is needed.

Five Aero’s experts can guide airlines, airports, city leaders and transport planners through these regulatory, operational and commercial challenges to help ensure a successful landing for UAM services.

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