Advanced Air Mobility


 

What is AAM?

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) is defined by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as “an air transportation system that moves people and cargo between places previously not served or underserved by aviation – local, regional, intraregional, urban – using revolutionary new aircraft that are only just now becoming possible.” (1) While AAM supports the transportation of people and goods between many geographic areas, Urban Air Mobility (UAM) focuses specifically on urban and suburban environments. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) envisions UAM as a “safe and efficient aviation transportation system that will use highly automated aircraft that will operate and transport passengers or cargo at lower altitudes within urban and suburban areas.” (2)

UAM is widely seen as the largest component of AAM and the one that has received the largest investment to date. Beyond UAM, AAM would incorporate use cases outside of urban environments, including commercial inter-city, cargo delivery, public services, and private vehicle travel. (2) Both concepts include not only the aircraft themselves but also the framework for operation, access to airspace, infrastructure, and engagement with community members.

The AAM acronym is used to describe this transformative airborne technology defined above by NASA and the FAA, but for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the focus is on commercial passenger-carrying electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and their support systems. eVTOL is the most discussed and reported segment of AAM to date. Innovations in distributed electric propulsion systems, electronic controllers, and battery systems have made this type of aircraft possible, which represents a move from a single rotor to multiple that increases handling and safety. With zero source emissions, they are more environmentally friendly to the air we breathe than traditional aircraft. They are also the source of a myriad of special purpose acquisition companies that have developed in recent years (3).

eVTOL aircraft have numerous motors and propellers or rotors that propel the aircraft vertically and horizontally. Designs differ substantially among developers, with some aircraft featuring wings with propellers for horizontal flight and rotors for vertical flight and others featuring rotors alone for both vertical and horizontal flight. There are three main types of eVTOL systems that can be expected in Florida in significant volume if the eVTOL original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) deliver on their promise of safe, efficient, and cost-saving aircraft:

 

  • Multicopter – looks and flies much like a helicopter except with multiple rotors.

 

 

  • Lift and cruise – uses rotors for vertical flight and transitions to propellers for horizontal flight.

 

 

  • Vectored thrust – uses rotors or fans for both vertical and horizontal flight.

 

 

1. NASA. Advanced Air Mobility Mission Overview. NASA. [Online] NASA, October 7, 2021. [Cited: January 5, 2022.]

https://www.nasa.gov/aam/overview/.

2. Federal Aviation Administration. Urban Air Mobility and Advanced Air Mobility. Federal Aviation Administration

website. [Online] October 8, 2020. [Cited: January 5, 2022.]

Urban Air Mobility and Advanced Air Mobility | Federal Aviation Administration (faa.gov)

3. Swartz, Kenneth. SPACtacular Financing: Billions Coming for eVTOL. Electric VTOL News. [Online] February 24,

2021. [Cited: January 10, 2022.] https://evtol.news/news/spactacular-financing-billions-coming-for-evtol.

 

FDOT Advanced Air Mobility Documents

  • FDOT Advanced Air Mobility Airport Compatibility Considerations