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Urban Air Mobility (UAM) & Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) general discussion / news
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Open topic about the recent trend in the development of aircraft transportation systems that serve as alternative urban travel methods meant to avoid traffic congestion.

The basic concept of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) has many roots that date back to the early days of flight itself, but this incarnation of an old idea is sparked by the latest developments in air travel, such as the electrically-powered VTOL (or eVTOL) aircraft concept and autonomous flight capability like a drone. The aim is to provide safe, reliable, cheap/affordable, and efficient transportation for everyday people in urban environments as an alternative to existing travel methods (i.e. air taxis), as well as additional logistical roles.

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) is NASA's take with added technical innovations proposed to transform aircraft design and the industry itself regarding UAM developments. It belongs to an initiative referred to as the Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign (formerly UAM Grand Challenge).

The intended vision of UAM (with specialized personal air vehicles, or PAVs) has not been fully realized yet, but there are contemporary examples in operation right now. UAM "air taxi" services are achieved via conventional helicopters in São Paulo, Brazil and Mexico City, Mexico, for example.

The following companies and aerospace groups all have partnership programs and individual projects entered into this growing trend (please let me know if I missed any):

  • Airbus
  • Airspace Experience Technologies
  • ASX Technologies
  • Audi
  • Bell
  • Beta Technologies
  • Boeing
  • EHang
  • Electric Aircraft Concept (EAC)
  • Elroy Air
  • EmbraerX
  • Honeywell
  • Hyundai
  • Jaunt
  • Joby Aviation
  • Kitty Hawk (Cora division is called Wisk.aero)
  • Lilium GmbH
  • NASA
  • NEC Corporation (Nippon Denki Kabushiki-gaisha)
  • Piasecki
  • Pipistrel
  • PT Aeroterrascan
  • PT Chroma International
  • Sabrewing
  • Sikorsky
  • Terrafugia
  • Toyota
  • Uber (UberAIR / UberElevate project)
  • Vertical Aerospace
  • Volocopter
  • VR Technologies (Russian Helicopters)

 

-- Edited by Stingray on Saturday 23rd of May 2020 08:00:50 PM



-- Edited by Stingray on Monday 1st of June 2020 11:10:12 PM

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News from January 14, 2020:

https://www.aviationtoday.com/2020/01/14/six-urban-air-mobility-aircraft-well-along-type-certification-faas-merkle-says/

Six Urban Air Mobility Aircraft ‘Well Along’ in Type Certification, FAA’s Merkle Says

By Brian Garrett-Glaser | January 14, 2020

Six aircraft intended for urban air mobility application are “well along” in pursuing type certification with the Federal Aviation Administration, said Jay Merkle, head of the FAA’s UAS integration office, at the Transportation Review Board’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Commenting on future transportation technology coming to the world of aviation, Merkle ensured the audience that urban air mobility (UAM) is “more than just hype … this is more than just promotional videos.” He described the sector as meeting future demand for regional aerial trips ranging from 30 miles to 300 miles.

“We have at least six aircraft well along in their type certification, which is the first step in introducing a new aircraft into operation,” Merkle said. “We are beginning to work on integrating them operationally, so the pilot requirements, the airline operating requirements, and then we’re also beginning to work on the airspace integration as well.”

The FAA would not share details regarding the six aircraft Merkle referenced, or what pathways to certification they are using. The agency has not released any new certification requirements particular to urban air mobility, like the special condition for VTOL aircraft that EASA released last summer, suggesting these aircraft are using existing pathways.

In May 2019, Merkle pushed back on suggestions that new regulation would be required to certify UAM aircraft, which often mix elements of helicopters and airplanes.

“It is absolutely not true that there need to be all new regulations” governing UAM, Merkle said during a speech at AUVSI’s Xponential conference. “We really cracked the code on how to take decades-old aviation [rules] and get to the essence of each of those requirements and say 'What was the safety goal here?”

“We found out through Part 23, we can really bring an aircraft through the process and address all the concerns,” Merkle said at the time.

Here are some of the aircraft we believe are most likely among the six Merkle referred to as being ‘well along’ in the certification process:

  • EHang, 216: Named for its two-passenger capacity and sixteen rotors, the Chinese-made autonomous vehicle took to the skies earlier this month, without passengers but with FAA approval, to kick off the 2020 North Carolina Transportation Summit. In December, EHang began trading on the Nasdaq under $EH, and the company stated back in July 2018 its aircraft had already made over 1,000 manned flights.
  • Elroy Air, Chaparral: Elroy, which is developing a hybrid-electric, autonomous VTOL aircraft for 300-pound cargo transport up to 300 miles, recently announced a partnership with EmbraerX to “cooperate on technical, certification and business opportunities,” according to CEO David Merrill. The Chaparral first flew in August 2019.
  • Joby Aviation, S-4: Joby has been secretive about the development of its all-electric, four-passenger air taxi, not even revealing full-scale images of its prototype — though it demonstrated a 15-mile flight in 15 minutes for Bloomberg Businessweek as far back as February 2018. More recently, Joby joined Uber Elevate as the ecosystem’s only vehicle partner publicly committed to being commercial-ready in 2023.If the S-4 isn’t ‘well along’ in the cert pipeline, then that timeline may be a pipe dream.
  • Kitty Hawk / Wisk, Cora: Backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, Kitty Hawk’s second design — a two-seater intended for autonomous air taxi use — has flown extensively in New Zealand and the U.S., with almost 1,000 test flights reported in June 2019. That same month, Boeing announced a strategic partnership specifically with Kitty Hawk’s Cora division, creating a new company called Wisk.aero. Wisk says it is “working closely with the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA),” but also mentions aspirations to “expand in other markets.”
  • Sabrewing, Rhaegal RG-1: This California-based startup is building hybrid-electric autonomous VTOL drones to transport heavy cargo, with a payload capacity up to 1,000 pounds. In March 2019, Sabrewing announced a $43 million purchase agreement with the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island in Alaska. CEO Ed De Reyes told Avionics at the time his company was close to finishing production of its first aircraft and plans to start flight testing at the end of the year.Sabrewing is targeting 2023 for certification through Part 23. The company is working with Garmin, FLIR, uAvionix and others for the Rhaegal’s avionics suite.
  • Volocopter, VoloCity: The German air taxi developer’s electric multicopter designs made headlines throughout 2019, with the ‘2X’ — a precursor to VoloCity, unveiled in August 2019 as the company’s first commercial design — flying high above Singapore and Stuttgart, Germany.While Volocopter hasn’t given any public indications it is pursuing certification in the U.S., the company received the first-ever design organization approval (DOA) from EASA that includes electric VTOL aircraft.

One wild card: Detroit-based Airspace Experience Technologies (or AirspaceX), which is developing its Mobi-One air taxi or cargo delivery concept, has stayed out of the headlines, but the company targets 2019 for tooling and certification and 2021 for aircraft production. A sub-scale model displayed at Uber Elevate 2018 had already flown in limited tests, according to co-founder Jon Rimanelli.

Merkle also referred to a nameless popular ridesharing company — likely Uber — as engaging in business modeling with traditional helicopters, working to create a multi-modal experience for passengers.

“Particularly for the human transportation component, most of the business models rely on taking people from some hub area in an urban or suburban area, and transporting them across surface congestion to another hub area where you can then meet up with short-range surface transportation,” Merkle said.

Uber targets 2023 as the launch date for its Uber Air service, using new electric VTOL aircraft, in Los Angeles, Dallas and Melbourne, though many of its vehicle partners don’t expect their aircraft to be ready until later in the decade.

“We think that’s going to be a very important area over the next few years and we see that as we solve the problems with small UAS and beyond visual line of sight, we’ll be turning more and more of our attention to this urban air mobility,” Merkle said. “To that end, we are continuing and starting to work on community engagement.”

When asked for further detail on current and future plans for UAM-related community engagement, an FAA representative referenced the agency being involved in numerous industry trade shows, organizing a National Drone Safety Awareness Week, and convening the industry-based Drone Advisory Committee — a definition of “community engagement” that seems limited at best.



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From February 21, 2020:

https://breakingdefense.com/2020/02/air-force-pushes-ahead-on-flying-car-challenge/

Air Force Pushes Ahead On ‘Flying Car’ Challenge

"Now is the perfect time to make Jetson's cars real," says Air Force acquisition head Will Roper.

By   THERESA HITCHENS

on February 21, 2020 at 5:28 PM

PENTAGON: The Air Force will release a request for proposals Feb. 25 for a ‘flying car’ that could eventually transport soldiers and supplies to the battlefield, says service acquisition head Will Roper.

“Now is the perfect time to make Jetson’s cars real,” with this program, Agility Prime. It “has come a long way,” Roper told reporters here today/. In his irresistible way, he added that “it’s a fun program.”

The goal is not for the Air Force to build the new transport vehicle, but to offer commercial firms an opportunity to test their prototypes on military ranges — avoiding the need to go through the time-consuming safety certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), while at the same time demonstrating their possible military utility.

Roper explained that Agility Prime is an effort to to influence an entire emerging marketplace to take defense needs into account from the beginning. The program is “looking at commercial markets, in this case the electric vertical and takeoff and landing, flying car market,” he said, “that view the Air Force as a potential influencer of that market.”

“In the case of EVTOL, we see numerous companies that are pushing really cool technology that has the chance to really change the world, but their challenge is getting certification and safety,” Roper explained. “So, the value proposition we have with those companies isn’t our R&D money — they’re flush with cash from private investors — our value proposition is our test ranges our safety and air worthiness certification.”

(In fact, along the same lines, NASA has been working with Uber since 2018 on a similar flying car project for civil transport.)

The competition, Roper said, will be “challenge-based” where vendors will be required to meet different flight duration goals and carry various payloads to advance in the competition for an Air Force safety certification. (DARPA often uses challenges, that involve small cash prizes, for testing out new technologies.)

“We’re working with our operators right now on what missions we might do,” Roper added. “They’re a lot, which is great. There’s pilot rescue, there’s logistics, mobility is a great mission,” he said. Flying cars could even provide security, he enthused, “as at a nuclear base, where things are spread apart, this would really speed up how fast defenders are able to move.” Back in September, Roper further mused that they could be used by Air Force Special Operations Forces, although he downplayed a bit the original concept that they might replace the V-22 Osprey.

At the end of the challenge, he said, the winner would be in a position to garner a procurement contract.

“Moving on to a procurement contract, buying in quantity, logging flight hours” with the Air Force will allow winning companies to prove to domestic authorities that they can fly safely, Roper said. “We want to catalyze the commercial market by bringing our commercial market to bear.”

What the Air Force wants to avoid, he stressed, is what happened in the small drone market; an issue that also has been bemoaned by DoD acquisition czar Ellen Lord. In that case, a potentially militarily beneficial commercial market was essentially conquered by Chinese investors because there wasn’t enough initial private capital and the Pentagon “didn’t take a proactive stance.”

“Now, most of that supply chain has moved to China,” he said. “If we had realized that commercial trend, and shown that the Pentagon is willing to pay a higher price point for a trusted supply chain drone, we probably could have kept part of the market here.”



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Not rotary, but relevant to the topic of UAM developments:

https://evtol.com/news/lilium-evtol-catches-fire/

Lilium eVTOL prototype damaged in ground fire

 Friday February 28, 2020

The German eVTOL developer Lilium has confirmed that its first full-scale Lilium Jet demonstrator was substantially damaged in a fire that broke out during ground maintenance activities on Feb. 27 at its headquarters near Munich.

Avatar

By Elan Head

The German eVTOL developer Lilium has confirmed that its first full-scale Lilium Jet demonstrator was substantially damaged in a fire that broke out during ground maintenance activities on Feb. 27 at its headquarters near Munich.

Lilium Jet before fire

With its first full-scale Lilium Jet demonstrator damaged by fire, the company will continue its flight test campaign with its second aircraft. Lilium Photo

“We can confirm that the airport fire brigade attended one of our facilities yesterday following an incident that occurred during regular ground maintenance of one of our demonstrators,” Lilium spokesperson Oliver Walker-Jones told eVTOL.com on Feb. 28.

“Nobody was injured and we are now looking at understanding the cause of the issue.”

Walker-Jones said the incident at the Oberpfaffenhofen airport was reported to Germany’s Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation (Bundesstelle für Flugunfalluntersuchung, or BFU). Meanwhile, he added, “Our second demonstrator was not damaged in the fire and we will continue our flight test campaign with this aircraft once we have fully understood the cause of this incident.”

The fully electric Lilium Jet is being developed as a five-seat air taxi for urban and regional air mobility missions. The vectored thrust aircraft incorporates 36 ducted fans across its main wing and forward canard, and is targeting a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles) at speeds of up to 300 km/h.

In October, Lilium shared footage of its first aircraft flying at speeds of up to 100 km/h (62 mph). At the time, the company reported that the remotely piloted aircraft would be moving into its second phase of flight testing, encompassing high-speed envelope expansion.

Lilium’s incident is not the first fire to befall an all-electric aircraft. On Jan. 22, Eviation’s prototype Alice electric regional aircraft was damaged in a fire that broke out during ground testing at Prescott Regional Airport in Arizona.



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Stingray wrote:

On Jan. 22, Eviation’s prototype Alice electric regional aircraft was damaged in a fire that broke out during ground testing at Prescott Regional Airport in Arizona.


 

More on that:

http://cafe.foundation/blog/eviations-alice-involved-in-fire/



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Beta Technologies is up there with Volocopter and Airbus making progress with flying prototypes, with actual pilots instead of tethered autonomous tests.

Also Joby Aviation but I think taht was an unmanned flight.



-- Edited by Rafale D on Tuesday 21st of April 2020 01:53:25 PM

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Lots of manned PAV test flights have been done before but since the UAM eVTOL craze I think Volocopter and EHang are the only ones that have done actual manned flight tests so far.



-- Edited by Pepper on Tuesday 21st of April 2020 02:25:18 PM

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Also Uber already has helicopter services but nothing fancy like EVTOL. Does anyone know when they will begin prototype testing, and to which design they will be pursuing?



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Rafale D wrote:

Also Uber already has helicopter services but nothing fancy like EVTOL. Does anyone know when they will begin prototype testing, and to which design they will be pursuing?


 

https://stingraysrotorforum.activeboard.com/t66533137/uberair-uberelevate-evtol-and-uam-developments/?page=1#comment-66536840

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Aside from safety concerns already discussed in the other threads i also have another issue with how dependent these are on digital FBW, and how easily the autonomous flight software is susceptible to programming error. Like that one instance with Kitty Hawk which was an error thanks to the ground crew. Not very comforting when you realize that companies like Uber will likely be employing cheap maintenance labour per the high production number of PAVs as opposed to highly trained professionals, that still managed to cause a critical failure in the flight software. Im not saying screwups dont happen of course, just that they also envision the technology to reach a level of maturity that eliminates the safety pilot totally. Think about that for a moment. X_X

Another problem to consider is the potential air traffic and avoidance of obstacles. Considering that these are designed as an alternative to ground traffic, the appeal will result in a broadened shift in which traffic issues will be reintroduced on a whole new level. The congested sky ways of many sci-fi movies is not an implausible scenario and is a huge safety concern. Does anyone know if the flight software will utilize any sort of obstacle avoidance, collision detection, that sort of thing? I haven't read of anything like thatmentioned in their planned capabilities yet. Yet its a feature that is becoming standard on modern cars, you would think it should be a standard UAM requirement for safe PAV design. Surely someone has thought of the horrors where pilot error or programming error would result in mid air collision or remodeling a nice building?

Im pretty progressive about the idea of autonomous air mobility but please tell me im not alone with my concerns...



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Leela25 wrote:

Aside from safety concerns already discussed in the other threads i also have another issue with how dependent these are on digital FBW, and how easily the autonomous flight software is susceptible to programming error. Like that one instance with Kitty Hawk which was an error thanks to the ground crew. Not very comforting when you realize that companies like Uber will likely be employing cheap maintenance labour per the high production number of PAVs as opposed to highly trained professionals, that still managed to cause a critical failure in the flight software. Im not saying screwups dont happen of course, just that they also envision the technology to reach a level of maturity that eliminates the safety pilot totally. Think about that for a moment. X_X


 The aim is for a user-friendly environment in the long run, but the technology and software is still brand new. They are still in the testing phase so these kind of hiccups should be expected.



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Yes i realize that but in the business of safe air travel there is zero room for error, and if trained professionals can cause critical failure then think about what that means for average level maintenance labour. Its going to be a while before we see these PAVs reach a sensible level of safety standards, and the same goes to their flight software.



-- Edited by Leela25 on Friday 1st of May 2020 06:01:44 PM

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https://www.aviationtoday.com/2020/04/28/agility-prime-air-force-commits-winning-innovation-war-electric-vtol-aircraft/

Through Agility Prime, Air Force Commits to Commercial Success of Air Taxis

By Brian Garrett-Glaser | April 28, 2020

During the Agility Prime virtual kickoff event, speakers from across NASA, the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration underlined the military and economic importance of U.S. leadership in the development of electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, or eVTOLs.

Agility Prime is the Air Force’s effort, along with numerous other federal agencies, to support booming commercial investment into eVTOLs, championed by companies like Uber primarily for use as air taxis in urban settings. The military’s attention to this area of technological development, which has clear military applications, is driven in part by the Pentagon’s self-admitted failure to secure domestic production of small drones — a supply chain defense officials are still fighting to bring back to the U.S.

In a show of force to industry and investors, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, service acquisition chief Dr. Will Roper, DOT Secretary Elaine Chao and many others sought to demonstrate the depth of the federal government and military commitment to accelerating and de-risking the development and deployment of eVTOL aircraft, both commercially and by the military.

“We want to be very clear up front that there is a path for the military market to accelerate domestic use,” said Roper. “Typically, when we engage with an industry partner, it’s our money — our funding — that is the primary basis of the relationship. But in the case of eVTOLs, we bring a lot of things that are a broader value proposition to this very exciting, transformative technology.”

With the private sector funding startups like Joby Aviation to the tune of $720 million, the Air Force will instead offer its test ranges, deep bench of engineering talent, safety certification process and even its reputation — Americans trust whatever the service chooses to fly over a stadium — to accelerate the development and certification of eVTOLs in the United States.

“Our value proposition in engaging with [eVTOL] systems is to bring those things — our ranges, our certifications — get these vehicles quickly through a military certification, start purchasing them, start flying them for military missions that will be radically transformed like logistics, base defense, disaster relief,” said Roper. “And every hour we log will build confidence in investors, in companies and in regulators.”

Timed with the Agility Prime virtual kickoff, the Air Force released two new challenge-based contracting opportunities — in addition to one that opened in February — seeking out nontraditional defense companies with commercial prototypes that are already in the air.

The first new challenge area, or AOI, seeks eVTOL aircraft capable of carrying 1-2 people more than 10 miles at a speed of at least 45 mph. At least a few UAM aircraft currently under development in the private sector are relevant to these requirements, including Wisk’s autonomous two-seater, Cora — on track for passenger transport trials in New Zealand — and Opener’s ultralight BlackFly.

The second AOI released this week by Agility Prime targets unmanned cargo eVTOLs with a maximum gross takeoff weight greater than 1,320 pounds and a payload exceeding 500 pounds. Qualifying aircraft must have a range over 200 miles, cruise speed greater than 100 mph, and an endurance over 100 minutes.

To qualify for either AOI — or the opportunity released in February for larger, 3-8 passenger eVTOLs — the aircraft must make its first full-scale flight prior to Dec. 17, 2020.

Futurists at the Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability (AFWIC) office, who evaluate what tomorrow’s warfighters will need, have consistently seen the usefulness of vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, said AFWIC director Brig. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, including in logistics and sustainment.

“We see a lot of use cases that have to do with the transport of small packages [in the field], or small groups of people,” Hinote said.

While helicopters will certainly continue to be used in the U.S. military, the Air Force is looking for “another, more widespread, widely applicable solution,” Hinote said, adding that traditional helicopters are generally loud, expensive to build, and require specialized training to fly.

“We certainly would like a solution at a lower cost point for all the right reasons,” he added.

The appeal of eVTOLs to the Air Force lies in five attributes where the aircraft promise to outshine helicopters: mechanical simplicity, for lower maintenance cost and time; autonomy, for improved safety and demands on personnel; ease of mass production; distributed propulsion, for improved acoustics; and runway independence.

Gen. Maryanne Miller, commander of USAF Air Mobility Command (AMC), said Agility Prime concept vehicles would help AMC provide “distributed logistics” to the warfighter in a more flexible, affordable and scalable way, including aeromedical evacuation and global air mobility support missions through increasingly contested environments.

“Can you imagine what these teams could do with the ability to self-deploy and [that are] no longer relying on the logistics transportation network?” Gen. Miller said. “Can you imagine a host of vehicles that any airman can operate to do airfield assessments, security patrols and surveillance, tactical airborne [command and control] and just so much more?”

Through Agility Prime’s “air race to certification” challenges, the service hopes to transition one or multiple eVTOL aircraft to production through more traditional contracting, aiming to initiate a program of record or make a fielding decision by 2023, according to Natasha Tolentino, Agility Prime program manager.

Despite the example use cases given, however, the Air Force is still determining exactly what it plans to do with these aircraft, once procured.

“I truly believe there is a requirement for this, we just don’t quite know what it is yet,” said Lynda Rutledge, Air Force Air Mobility program executive officer.

The benefit of the Air Force-driven Agility Prime effort will be spread across all services, officials noted. Program officers from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air National Guard and Air Force Special Operations Command also participated in the week-long virtual event.

Agility Prime plans to work closely with the FAA to translate commercial certification requirements into military ones and vice versa, said Frank Delsing, flight test lead at Air Force Research Laboratory.

“We actually have in Kansas… a military certification office (MCO) whose sole responsibility is to give us that kind of transition between FAA and DoD airworthiness,” said Delsing. “So when we go to buy civilian-derivative aircraft and we turn them into military aircraft, that MCO helps us with that transition between an FAA-type certificate and a military type certificate … And that’s one of the other reasons that we are so committed to helping the [vendors] in this industry get to their FAA certification, because that only makes it easier for us in the long run.”

And that assistance may prove critical, as FAA certification officials are increasingly working with eVTOLs — or “advanced air mobility” aircraft, a term NASA and the FAA now use to refer to an umbrella of new propulsion technologies, unmanned aviation and expanded use of low-altitude airspace.

“At the FAA right now, certainly in the certification world, advanced air mobility has become big business,” said Dr. Michael Romanowski, the FAA’s director of policy innovation. “It’s a major driver of what we’re doing right now. I’ll say that we’re currently working with somewhere around 30 unique projects with companies geared towards certifying advanced air mobility vehicles.”

One private company that appreciates the interagency focus is Uber Elevate, the rideshare giant’s ecosystem-approach to bringing urban air mobility to traffic-congested cities worldwide, with vehicle partners including Hyundai Motors, Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, helicopter major Bell, and Toyota-backed Joby Aviation.

“I’ve always felt that government, the Department of Defense, and NASA have a vital role to reduce risk,” said Mark Moore, aviation director of engineering at Uber Elevate. “This is bigger than any one company. This is tens of billions of dollars of investment that is required.”

“If you look across our partners, just to develop one experimental aircraft is $100 million-$150 million. To certify that aircraft is $700 million to $1 billion,” Moore added. “These are really, really high stakes, and for both the Department of Defense and NASA to be helping to reduce risk, and to show the breadth of missions that these things can apply to, is fantastic. It really helps the investment community to understand and to stick with this, even during trying days such as we’re going through right now."



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https://evtol.com/news/air-force-agility-prime-30-evtols/

Wednesday April 29, 2020

The U.S. Air Force is aiming to field at least 30 hybrid and fully electric VTOL aircraft for various missions.

All week, the Air Force has hosted a virtual roll-out of its Agility Prime initiative, through which the service will break from government contracting norms and give the commercial sector a leg up in developing advanced hybrid and fully electric aircraft. It will then co-opt the resulting designs to perform military missions, according to Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

“We want to have 30 vehicles in the Air Force,” Roper said April 29 during a Zoom call with reporters. “There are multiple companies that can do that.”

Through a series of ongoing “air race” competitions open to all comers through 2025, the Air Force is looking for a vehicle that costs between a few hundred thousand and a few million dollars that is “exceptionally cheap to operate and easy to get a pilot proficient to fly, if you have a pilot at all,” Roper said.

“We see a huge potential to have missions that right now have drivers and to change them to flyers, but not pilots,” Roper said. “Similar to getting certified to fly a drone, that’s a lower bar than getting certified to fly an airplane. We’ve got to be able to walk that same path in the Air Force . . . and not send someone through the same training pipeline we do to fly an F-16 or an F-35, which takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money.”

The Air Force is betting that compared to other ground and air vehicles, eVTOLs could revolutionize mobility by performing various missions with less maintenance, improved safety through increased autonomy, and less noise using distributed propulsion. On top of all that, the vehicles envisioned could do what manned helicopters and airplanes currently do with greater flexibility and at a lower cost, Roper said.

Roper has been in direct contact with most of the leading commercial eVTOL companies during the Agility Prime launch and received a clear, unified message from them on how the Air Force can best support urban air mobility becoming a reality.

“It’s very clear from all of them that the way the U.S. Air Force needs to engage is as an accelerant of a dual-use market, not a funder of DoD [Department of Defense] production lines,” Roper said. “There is a definite concern and fear because historically, that’s how we’ve engaged.”

The military wants to buy the same vehicles that its investment will make available in the domestic, commercial market, Roper said. Congress has included $25 million in the Air Force’s fiscal 2020 budget and Roper said the service “will certainly have this in our ’22 budget,” but will have to work with Congress to determine how much it will spend.

“That money is going toward testing, certification and, ultimately, a bill of sale,” Roper said. “They need to not just be building experimental assets. They need to show that they have production lines with supply chains that can scale nationally.”

Because the military need will be small relative to the U.S. national and eventual international markets for eVTOL, it can serve as a bridge market to provide companies flight hours and to build confidence for regulators and governments at all levels, Roper said.

Though it will not place specific requirements on industry to develop the eVTOLs it wants, the Air Force has begun publishing desired attributes for the various air races it will sponsor. Starting with Air Race 1, or Area of Interest 1 (AOI-1), the service is looking for larger vehicles capable of carrying four to five passengers or the equivalent weight in cargo.

“We’ll start there, but we’ll have other air races where we’ll have smaller vehicles, larger vehicles, because the missions that these can do seem very flexible,” Roper said. “Agility Prime will not be just one vehicle if there’s more than one type that can succeed.”

AOI-2 seeks a smaller vehicle with a payload capacity of one or two passengers or equivalent weight in cargo, a range greater than 10 miles, speed greater than 45 miles per hour and endurance of more than 15 minutes, according to an Air Force solicitation published April 28 on the government’s contracting website.

AOI-3 envisions a cargo aircraft not necessarily designed to carry human passengers, according to the Air Force documents. It should have a maximum gross takeoff weight of more than 1,320 pounds, a payload of more than 500 pounds, a range of 200 miles or more, fly faster than 100 miles per hour and have an endurance of more than 100 minutes.

For all three categories of aircraft, the Air Force wants to see first flight of a full-scale prototype before Dec. 17, 2020, according to the AOI documents.

The Air Force will take the winning designs and usher them through acceptance of certification by the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, Department of Transportation and other government and regulatory agencies, Roper said.

“I think once we start logging flight hours and we’ve got a gray vehicle with ‘U.S. Air Force’ painted down the side, and started showing how many flights we’ve done safely and it’s got our stamp of approval literally because our name is on the side of it, that will help make those decisions a lot easier,” he said.



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Leela25 wrote:

Another problem to consider is the potential air traffic and avoidance of obstacles. Considering that these are designed as an alternative to ground traffic, the appeal will result in a broadened shift in which traffic issues will be reintroduced on a whole new level. The congested sky ways of many sci-fi movies is not an implausible scenario and is a huge safety concern. Does anyone know if the flight software will utilize any sort of obstacle avoidance, collision detection, that sort of thing? I haven't read of anything like thatmentioned in their planned capabilities yet. Yet its a feature that is becoming standard on modern cars, you would think it should be a standard UAM requirement for safe PAV design. Surely someone has thought of the horrors where pilot error or programming error would result in mid air collision or remodeling a nice building?

Im pretty progressive about the idea of autonomous air mobility but please tell me im not alone with my concerns...


 

For the most part, no you're not alone. But on the comment about congested skies in science fiction being a reality, that's outrageous LOL. There would probably be a lot more air traffic than we see right now, of course but the Jetsons scenario isn't likely going to happen anytime soon.

Ehang released a brochure back in January saying that they have plans to incorporate millimeter radar and self-detection capabilities in their aircraft, so it is safe to assume that this issue was alreardy thought of with initial proposals by other companies too.



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Good for them, hopefully it will be a standard on all PAV designs.

Yup the thing about congested skyways was a bit on the dramatic side but it is still not an implausibility as we can both agree on the scenario of increased air traffic. The smart city idea is a bit on the side of a castle in the sky (pun!!! i regret nothing!) but a busier sky is definitely in the forecast :P



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EHang White Paper ON Urban Air Mobility Systems, page 4 lists key safety factors

1) Power redundancy provided by multiple motors and propellers (e.g. distributed

electric propulsion, or DEP);

2) Complete autonomous operations to eliminate human errors caused by the pilots;

3) Backup from duplicate flight control, communication and navigation systems;

4) Centralized command-and-control to ensure safe operations;

5) Intelligent obstacle avoidance capabilities (e.g. millimeter radar, visual positioning, etc.);

6) Intelligent self-detection capabilities to constantly monitor vehicles automatically. To that end, special algorithms need to be developed and “burned into” hardware

systems to make the vehicles 

 

https://www.ehang.com/app/en/EHang%20White%20Paper%20on%20Urban%20Air%20Mobility%20Systems.pdf



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retroistic wrote:
For the most part, no you're not alone. But on the comment about congested skies in science fiction being a reality, that's outrageous LOL. There would probably be a lot more air traffic than we see right now, of course but the Jetsons scenario isn't likely going to happen anytime soon.

 I think it will be closer to Blade Runner with real life Spinners, a few here and there but still a lot of ground traffic. Plus or minus replicants running amok and occasionally using thigh crush combo finger nostril action.

PAV accidents pale in comparison.



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Pepper wrote:
replicants running amok and occasionally using thigh crush combo finger nostril action.

 Errrr.... what you do in the back of your PAV is none of our business! x3

Ive been doing more research on obstacle avoidance for UAM and and found this report, really neat read...http://cs229.stanford.edu/proj2019spr/report/85.pdf



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Just one crash like the New York Pan am building & poof no landing spot...


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Hyundai Motor Group appoints J. Scott Drennan as Vice President of Urban Air Mobility Division

https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/passenger-vehicle/cars/hyundai-motor-group-appoints-j-scott-drennan-as-vice-president-of-urban-air-mobility-division/74978920

J Scott Drennan will focus on Hyundai's Urban Air Mobility business with VTOL aircraft.

ETAuto April 04, 2020, 12:09 IST

New Delhi: Hyundai Motor Group has announced the appointment of J Scott Drennan as Vice President of its Urban Air Mobility Division. The South Korean auto major says that Drennan has more than 25 years of experience in engineering and innovation with a focus in vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.

The automaker that has been developing new mobility solutions for quite some time is aiming to take a lead the UAM industry and Drennan's appointment would help it to achieve that goal, claims Hyundai.

Drennan will report to Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President (EVP) and Head of UAM Division. He will lead UAM research and development.

Prior to joining Hyundai, Drennan worked for more than 25 years with Bell Textron and made significant contributions to the V-22, the AW609 and the V-280, all vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. He served as Vice President of Innovation at Bell Textron, where he was responsible for developing advanced configurations, technologies and vertical lift missions to advance Bell Textron’s commercial and military business.

Commenting on his appointment, Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President (EVP) and Head of UAM Division, Hyundai Motor Group, said, “We are fortunate to have Scott join our UAM Division. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with Scott closely in the past and found him not only superb in his technical knowledge and experience but also excellent in leading people."

He also said, "Leveraging his vast experience in the VTOL and UAM fields, Drennan will lead the engineering development to turn our vision of Urban Air Mobility into a reality, transforming our lifestyles for many decades to come.”

Drennan started his career as an engineer in 1990 as a co-op student with GE Aircraft Engines. He was appointed an Aeronautics Committee member on the NASA Advisory Council in June 2018.

Drennan holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland and a Masters of Liberal Arts from Southern Methodist University. He has received executive leadership training from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.



-- Edited by Leela25 on Friday 8th of May 2020 02:04:11 PM

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Ehang supports Urban Air Mobility themed hotel

https://helihub.com/2020/05/22/ehang-supports-urban-air-mobility-themed-hotel/

22 May, 20, Source: EHang

EHang Holdings Limited (Nasdaq: EH) (“EHang” or the “Company”), the world’s leading autonomous aerial vehicle (“AAV”) technology platform company, announced that it has entered a strategic partnership with LN Holdings (000524.SZ), a Shenzhen-listed tourism platform company, to further commercialize its AAVs by integrating Urban Air Mobility (“UAM”) solutions into the latter’s hotel/tourism businesses. This collaboration will not only broaden the use cases for AAVs, but will also expand the partnerships in the existing ecosystem. As one of the collaboration initiatives, the introduction of EHang 216 AAV services into LN Garden Hotel will make it the world’s first hotel to offer such services to its customers.

Senior executives from both companies attended a signing ceremony in Guangzhou on May 9, including Edward Xu, Chief Strategy Officer of EHang, and Feng Jing, Party Secretary and Chairman of LN Group. Representatives from major media organizations were also invited to take rides on EHang 216 AAVs onsite for aerial trips over the hotel. At dusk, an aerial light show was performed by EHang to celebrate the new partnership.

The partnership between EHang and LN Holdings will start with a pilot program at the LN Garden Hotel in Nansha, a coastal district in Guangzhou, to build the world’s first UAM theme hotel. The program will promote the innovative integration of aerial sightseeing, traveler transportation, air logistics, aerial media light shows, intelligent exhibitions and education. It will also promote the new experience of air tourism and explore other commercial use cases for EHang AAVs.

This cross-sector collaboration intends to set an example for integrated operation of air mobility solutions in the tourism industry, while also contributing to establishing Guangzhou as China’s first and the world’s leading UAM smart city and shaping the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area to be the best place to live, work and travel.

Hu Huazhi, Founder, Chairman and CEO of EHang, said, “We are excited to establish a comprehensive and long-term strategic partnership with LN Holdings. Helping to build Guangzhou into a global air mobility pilot city is a milestone for us, and further promotes the commercialization of the UAM ecosystem. Guests of LN Garden Hotel will experience our one-stop intelligent AAV services, including the unique aerial sightseeing, convenient and autonomous air deliveries and high-tech aerial light shows.”

Liang Lingfeng, General Manager of LN Group and Chairman of LN Holdings, commented, “We own a broad chain of resources in the tourism industry, covering travel, brand hotels, conventions, exhibitions and scenic attractions. By leveraging our controlling shareholder LN Group’s ability to integrate its resources in consumer sector, cooperating with EHang could generate incremental products and services. We can fulfill customers’ travel demands in the air and on the ground by combining intelligent technology with the tourist experience. Eventually, we will provide new products and services across different sectors, business categories and regions in the country.”

As a pioneer in the global UAM industry, EHang entered into a strategic agreement with Guangzhou Government in August 2019 to develop the world’s first UAM pilot city. In the future, tourists visiting Guangzhou can not only travel around landmarks such as the Canton Tower, Beijing Road and the Pearl River, but can also ride in an “air taxi” (the passenger-grade AAV) to enjoy the scenery of Guangzhou city from the air.

As other cutting-edge technologies such as 5G networks develop, AAV technology will gradually realize a market potential in the trillions of dollars. According to Morgan Stanley, the global UAM market should reach $1.5 trillion by 2040. The China market shows strong potential of $431 billion, accounting for almost 30% of the global UAM market.



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Autoflug and Volocopter partner on air taxi seats

https://helihub.com/2020/05/27/autoflug-and-volocopter-partner-on-air-taxi-seats/

27 May, 20, Source: AUTOFLUG

At the latest with the presentation of VoloCity from Volocopter it becomes clear that the future of urban transport will be in the air. The sophisticated concept envisages the use of air taxis for safe and quick transportation, for example between airports and international major city centers. To offer passengers the highest level of safety and comfort during the short flight times, a contract has now been signed with AUTOFLUG. AUTOFLUG has been working intensively on developing light and safe seats for aviation for decades.

The requirements of civil helicopters and aircraft from the urban air mobility segment are met in equal measure with the AUTOFLUG FLYWEIGHT® seat family. Extremely light and in compliance with all safety aspects, the modular concept offers a wide range of equipment variants and options. “In the eVTOL sector, we have to pay even more attention to weight and comfort than is already the case in aviation. In AUTOFLUG, we have gained an experienced partner who understands the requirements of this new market and is prepared to tread new paths together,” says Jan-Hendrik Boelens, CTO of Volocopter.

The contract includes the joint development of a wall connection for the seats to make optimum use of the available space in the cabin. The contract also includes the production and delivery of seats for the VoloCity for the coming years. “We are extremely delighted that we can actively enrich this pioneering concept with our seats.” Martin Kroell, Managing Partner at AUTOFLUG continues: “The strength of the product design, but also the innovative spirit of both companies, are a good basis for the collaboration, with this initial contract hopefully just being the start.”



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EHang wins approval for autonomous air logistics operations

https://helihub.com/2020/05/29/ehang-wins-approval-for-autonomous-air-logistics-operations/

29 May, 20, Source: EHang

EHang Holdings Limited (Nasdaq: EH) (“EHang” or the “Company”), the world’s leading autonomous aerial vehicle (“AAV”) technology platform company, announced that it obtained the world’s first commercial pilot operation approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (“CAAC”) to use EHang 216 passenger-grade AAVs for air logistics purpose. Thus, EHang became the world’s first AAV company approved by a national aviation authority to carry out commercial pilot operation for the category of 150 kg plus heavy-lift air logistics uses.

This approval was granted based on the Pilot Operation Rules (Interim) for Specific Unmanned Aircraft promulgated by the CAAC in February 2019 for different categories of specific unmanned aircraft including passenger-grade AAVs. It is a pioneering regulation for which the CAAC applied the Specific Operation Risk Assessment (“SORA”) framework of the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking of Unmanned Systems (“JARUS”), a group of experts from the national aviation authorities of 61 countries, including China and the U.S., and the European Aviation Safety Agency (“EASA”) and EUROCONTROL.

With this approval, trial air logistics service using the EHang 216 would be carried out to transport cargo between ground and hilltop and between shore and islands at a customer site in Taizhou. It is also intended to be gradually expanded to other sites in China as it accumulates operational data and experience.

As the first company approved for the passenger-grade AAV airworthiness certification pilot program by the CAAC and as a member of the CAAC Special Expert Taskforce, the accumulated flight trials and tests conducted by EHang contributed significant practical experience to the CAAC to further develop and evolve regulations and standards related to passenger-grade AAVs.

CAAC Deputy Administrator Li Jian commented, “I am pleased to see the fast development that EHang has achieved in China and globally, and that the flight test program of its passenger-grade AAVs were successfully verified by the CAAC to be granted with this approval. It can be a safe and efficient solution to transport cargo.”

CAAC Chief Engineer Yin Shijun added, “We encourage the development of the unmanned aircraft industry while ensuring safety. EHang 216 is a passenger-grade AAV quite different from other unmanned aircraft. We will provide our strong support and help accelerate the commercialization of this innovative air mobility solution.”

EHang Founder, Chairman and CEO Hu Huazhi said, “We are thrilled that the CAAC and EHang took the lead on the world’s first commercial pilot operation approval of passenger-grade AAVs for air logistics uses. This approval is of great significance. For EHang, it enables us to enhance our first-mover advantage and accelerate the commercialization of AAV technology and air mobility solutions for logistics. It also lays a foundation for regulators around the world to jointly explore and establish a coordinated, supportive and sustainable regulatory environment. This will benefit the long-term development of the promising Urban Air Mobility (“UAM”) applications.”

Air logistics is an essential UAM application with huge market potential. According to Morgan Stanley, the global UAM market size could reach US$1.5 trillion by 2040. Air logistics is expected to one of the initial applications for commercialization.



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On Agility Prime, Ihave seen some people question Air Force involvement in the UAM boom. They obviously don't understand the motive behind it.

Let's face it, the ideas being thrown around and oversold to investors have an appeal for military operation (That also means foreign military). Should the UAM industry mature they'll want to ensure that it's heading in the right direction, especially with the plethora of startups that make big promises that they ultimately cannot fulfill. They want to see the ones with the most promise succeed and meet the expectations for potential military candidacy. It all comes down to exclusivity, IMO.

Sort of deja vu on past efforts from the Army and the Air Force hasa  chance to see it actually go somewhere, especially in an era with such an expanding and developing market for machines riding the flying car bandwagon.



-- Edited by retroistic on Sunday 31st of May 2020 01:20:22 PM

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Sort of a cynical way of looking at it. I think it more has to do with aiding in the maturity of the UAM industry as a whole, lending support that was not available when flying cars were being thought up in the nuclear age when their sights were set elsewhere. For the military sector flaying cars were originally an Army consideration, like you said, but not a lot of options were available to choose from since the technology for the UAM concept was not mature enough (Air jeeps, VZ-1, aerocycle,et). Flying cars were the pipe dreams of a developing commercial market in a different economical world. But nothing happened and people wanted that darned flying car! People still do. The USAF is finally giving us the push we need to make it happen and to do it right.

There may be potential for military application but I don't see it as the primary driving force for their initiative.



-- Edited by Rafale D on Sunday 31st of May 2020 02:16:04 PM

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Its also to ensure safety requisites are met for certification. Sort of like quality control in a way... if it meets USAF approval to don their seal, it must mean a safe/reliable machine for everyone. At least thats how i understand this aim. :/



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Rafale D wrote:

Sort of a cynical way of looking at it. 


 It's the logical way of looking at it. Yes, the Air Force wants the flying car to hurry up an happen and yes, they want it done right by people who know what they're doing instead of some random startup that oversell unreachable development goals, but in the end it all comes down to exclusivity and the potential for military application. Common sense: they wouldn't just support an initiative (or hell start their own offshoot) on the grounds of innovation alone, it has to also appeal to their mission.

That being said, I'm not speaking ill of it in any way, I don't want my words to be misconstrued. I think the UAM industry has more promise with Air Force support on both the civil and military market, but I'm also not naive to the chief objective here.



-- Edited by retroistic on Sunday 31st of May 2020 11:17:36 PM

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