Alaka’i Technologies has joined NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign as a vehicle partner, NASA announced on Nov. 16.
Alaka’i — developer of the hydrogen fuel cell-powered Skai eVTOL — is one of two eVTOL developers newly added to the campaign, a collaborative effort between NASA and industry to accelerate AAM. The other is Wisk, creator of the self-flying, two-seat Cora eVTOL.
Wisk and Alaka’i signed information exchange agreements with NASA earlier this year, and will now prepare for the first National Campaign (NC-1) beginning in 2022 with the intent to assess operational safety scenarios around urban air mobility (UAM).
While NASA’s partnership with Wisk will focus on the safe integration of autonomous aircraft systems, the one with Alaka’i will emphasize its hydrogen fuel cell technology — a contrast to the battery-electric designs of many eVTOL aircraft.
“Our vehicle partnerships are critical to NASA and the industry success in AAM,” stated Davis Hackenberg, AAM mission integration manager, in a press release. “These partnerships are the cornerstone of our data collection that will support standardization, certification and eventually the operational approval for safe and scalable UAM operations.”
NASA is already working with 17 companies on the developmental testing phase of the AAM National Campaign, previously known as the UAM Grand Challenge. NASA is planning an Integrated Dry Run Test in December as the first step of this campaign, which will use a helicopter as a surrogate UAM vehicle to develop a data baseline for future flight testing.
Following this dry run, NASA will use Joby Aviation’s air taxi for developmental testing in 2021, including designing flight scenarios for NC-1. AAM National Campaign partners will focus on demonstrating integrated operations through flight activities with vehicles and third-party airspace service providers at various locations in the national airspace system around the country, NASA said.