By Jenna Scafuri

Jenna Scafuri is a freelance writer/editor based in the Washington, D.C., area. Her work has included coverage of the aviation industry, including helicopters, UAS, and UAM.


CAMI aims to engage communities on urban air mobility

A new nonprofit industry association, Community Air Mobility Initiative (CAMI), has launched with the mission of using education, communication, and advocacy to support the responsible integration of urban air mobility (UAM) into communities.

Bell Nexus CAMI
Bell, which is developing the hybrid-electric Bell Nexus, is one of the founding members of CAMI. Bell Image

“Like the industry which it serves, CAMI approaches its mission with an entrepreneurial spirit,” said CAMI co-executive director Anna Dietrich in announcing the launch to reporters on Nov. 5. “CAMI focuses on the development of broadly useful resource packages, leveraging existing associations and communication channels to efficiently reach many localities. [We] work closely with state and local jurisdictions to address the unique questions that they face.”

According to CAMI co-executive director Yolanka Wulff, the aviation industry is currently segregated in terms of how it intersects with the rest of the transportation industry. Today, passengers travel by air using a dedicated environment that is isolated from other forms of transportation. That environment has specific controls and restrictions that limit the interaction with the surrounding community.

But UAM requires aviation to fully integrate into an existing community transportation system, Wulff pointed out. That will bring challenges such as navigating traffic congestion, urban sprawl, environmental impacts, and noise. CAMI will focus on finding solutions to these challenges, as well as legal challenges with competing jurisdictions, infrastructure challenges, safety and liability issues, and transportation demand management.

Another significant challenge to implementing UAM is achieving community buy-in. In order for UAM to “get off the ground,” CAMI’s founders believe, the public must first embrace UAM as a new mode of transportation.

“The highest barriers to this industry are public acceptance and safety,” said Wulff. “As we thought about the role CAMI could serve, we realized there was a need to bridge the gap between the aviation industry, regulators, and the local communities where these aircraft would fly. We would need to ensure that there was a market for UAM and that the community understood the value of the new technology.”

CAMI recognizes that the success of UAM requires the collaboration of many stakeholders, including elected officials, urban planners, transportation agencies, architects, real estate developers, business owners, and essential services.

The new association aims to fill the gap at the state and local levels not currently being served. “It’s important to treat local decision makers with the respect they deserve,” said Dietrich. “CAMI will provide education materials that will be useful for them as they integrate the new technology into their communities. We need to get ahead of potential issues now while policies are first being considered.”

CAMI is supported by its members, which cover a wide spectrum of stakeholders in the emerging UAM industry. Its founding members include Bell, Black and Veatch, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, General Aviation Manufactures Association (GAMA), Joby Aviation, Jump Aero, Karem Aircraft, Massachusetts Department of Transportation, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), Raytheon, SAE International, Unmanned Safety Institute, and the Vertical Flight Society.

Members don’t need to be aircraft manufacturers or operators, but they must “prioritize safety, bring credibility to CAMI and the industry, and have a demonstrated desire to be a good neighbor within their communities,” CAMI states.

In addition to its members and leadership, CAMI also plans to engage with industry experts to help build education materials and policies. “CAMI understands the importance of working with all stakeholders to develop UAM that integrates with existing and future urban regional transportation systems,” said Wulff.

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1 Comment

  1. Since communities don’t float in midair, better take what’s on the ground into consideration. The focus is that much concentrated on the eVTOL engineering, that the logistical and real estate aspects of urban air mobility are pretty much being overlooked. Fact is that you will need a lot of these so-called vertiports strategically spaced away from each other, to have a service of any significance. The SF-flavored artist impressions of dedicated vertiports used in several pitches (Uber’s a.o.) actually rule out the possibility of affordable, ubiquitously available air-ride hailing. Better make those hubs as space-efficient as possible, preferably integrate them with other economic functions, instead of building them all-new. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that hi-tech can just bypass common sense. Vehicle autonomy (2D) developers did.

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