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Airbus partners with Singapore on UAM

Airbus will collaborate with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) to develop urban air mobility (UAM) in the island city-state, potentially leading to passenger transportation services.

Airbus Singapore CAAS UAM agreement
Airbus and CAAS signed a formal memorandum of understanding concerning urban air mobility at this year’s Singapore Airshow. Airbus Photo

Airbus executive vice president of engineering Jean-Brice Dumont and CAAS director-general Kevin Shum signed a memorandum of understanding to that effect at the 2020 Singapore Airshow on Feb. 12.

Under the agreement, Airbus and CAAS will work together to define and develop an initial UAM service with an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in Singapore, with a focus on realizing the unmanned traffic management (UTM) system and services needed to support the initial use case.

Both parties will cooperate on fostering public acceptance, developing standards, and establishing safety frameworks while also studying requirements for further UAM services to include cargo and passenger transportation solutions.

The agreement builds on the Skyways UAS partnership established between Airbus and CAAS in 2016, which saw Airbus’s Skyways drone successfully used to deliver parcels on the campus of the National University of Singapore, and 3D-printed parts to vessels anchored at Singapore’s Eastern Working Anchorage.

Airbus Skyways drone
Airbus’s Skyways parcel delivery drone, shown here during shore-to-ship trials in Singapore last year, navigated autonomously to vessels along pre-determined “aerial corridors.” Airbus Photo

Going forward, the Skyways drone will continue to be used as a “flying test lab,” with an initial focus on the connectivity and navigation technologies necessary to enable UTM. This will pave the way for the digital traffic management solutions that will be critical enablers of UAM, Airbus said.

Singapore is rapidly establishing itself as a leading geographic region for UAM. In October last year, Volocopter performed a piloted demonstration of its 2X eVTOL air taxi prototype around Singapore’s Marina Bay. At the same time, Volocopter and Skyports exhibited a prototype “VoloPort” as an example of the infrastructure that might serve future air taxi passengers.

“CAAS supports the beneficial development of UAM. It fits within our Smart Nation vision, where we aim to take full advantage of technology to solve problems, address challenges, and develop Singapore into one of the most outstanding cities in the world to live in,” Shum stated in a press release.

“That is why we seek to collaborate with businesses to push the boundaries of their applications. Such collaborations, including our longstanding CAAS-Airbus partnership, build Singapore’s capabilities and expertise to enable advanced [UAM] applications, particularly in our urban environment,” he added.

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