Ten industry associations are urging the White House to take steps to increase U.S. competitiveness in the rapidly growing eVTOL and urban air mobility (UAM) sector.
“Other regions of the world, like the Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East, are moving forward with aggressive research and development programs and plans to deploy UAM in their nations in the near future,” the associations write in a Nov. 13 letter to officials at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
“In order to ensure American leadership in this sector, there must be a full commitment from all levels of government and coordination within and between agencies.”
The Vertical Flight Society (VFS), one of the letter’s signatories, said the letter came about as the result of coordinating efforts initiated at the VFS Workshop on eVTOL Defining Challenges in September. Other signatories include the Aerospace Industries Association, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, American Composite Manufacturers Association, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Community Air Mobility Initiative, Commercial Drone Alliance, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, National Air Transportation Association, and National Business Aviation Association, together representing an informal “UAM Coordinating Council” that expects to add additional UAM-supportive non-profit organizations in the future.
The letter follows an Aug. 30 White House policy memorandum that encourages government agencies and departments to prioritize “R&D that enables [eVTOL] and civil supersonic aircraft, including for type certification.”
In their Nov. 13 letter, the associations “applaud the administration for including R&D for [eVTOL] aircraft — the key enabler for UAM — in its budget priorities.” The letter goes on to encourage government departments and agencies to continue focusing on four immediate areas related to UAM: research, standards, certification, and workforce development.
In the area of research, the associations highlight ongoing research programs such as NASA’s UAM Grand Challenge, which they say “are critical to providing demonstrated data that accelerates informed regulatory, policy, and standards decisions.”
With respect to developing standards for this new industry, the associations encourage reinforcement of OMB Circular A-119, which instructs federal agencies to use voluntary consensus standards instead of standards unique to government whenever practical. Along with application of the 1996 National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act that created the policy, this will “maximize the government’s resources and the timeliness and relevance of the participating organizations,” the associations write.
Their letter also calls for the Federal Aviation Administration to continue working with industry on performance-based paths to certification for eVTOL aircraft. And, it highlights the need for “adequate education, training, and credentialing” of the UAM workforce that will manufacture, design, and support the operation of UAM vehicles.
“UAM has the potential to be the next great aviation revolution and benefit people from all walks of life,” the letter concludes. “While it has great promise, much work remains. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the federal government to ensure this future becomes a reality.”
This story has been updated to include additional details about the UAM Coordinating Council.