As visitors at the Farnborough International Airshow 2022 toured the halls filled with global aerospace’s best and brightest innovations, one display in particular was catching the eye – Vertical Aerospace’s full-scale model of their electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, the VX4. This all-electric, zero-carbon ‘flying taxi’ represents the forefront of the exciting and innovative new Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) sector that is fast becoming a reality.
AAM is all about building on 21st century technological developments in efficient propulsion and energy storage systems to unlock a new way of connecting people and places through the air. The opportunities in the UK for AAM are plentiful: from short time-saving hops within cities and enabling fast connections to airport hubs, to connecting towns and regions with one another, and unmanned aircraft taking to the skies to better serve communities right across the UK. Any ADS member involved in this industry should consider joining the AAM Special Interest Group – details here.
FIA22 hosted another critical moment for this industry as the AAM community came together to progress the development of the future of flight. At an exciting moment for AAM in the UK, the Airshow saw Joby Aviation announce plans to bring their eVTOL aircraft to the UK, and have begun the certification process with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to do so.
At the same time the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s Future Flight Challenge, which sought applications from organisations to demonstrate electric, autonomous air vehicles and also to develop systems to support their deployment – announced details of its phase three winners, projects that will share £73 million in funding to develop and demonstrated integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies.
But the hard work to make AAM a reality in the UK continues beyond the Airshow, as demonstrated by the recent publication of a new problem statement from the Future Aviation Industry Working Group on Airspace Integration, or FAIWG:AI. This working group – set up by UKRI, the CAA, Connected Places Catapult and the Department for Transport – brings together stakeholders from across industry to provide input to government strategy and regulatory policy for integrating new vehicle types into UK airspace. ADS represents its members on this group through the ADS AAM Special Interest Group – open to all members.
The new problem statement “Future Airspace Integration: Leading the World” sets the challenges of addressing the safe integration of new vehicles into UK airspace, specifically focussing on unmanned aircraft, eVTOLs and hybrid-electric regional aircraft. By focusing on three main areas – regulation, technology, operations – the statement takes a holistic look at where the barriers to overcome are, looking to develop a comprehensive plan to allow commercial services to begin in the UK no later than 2025.
This is an exciting moment for the future of flight. The opportunities offered by AAM and new technology offer the chance to better connect the UK than ever before – but getting there will require partnerships across industry, government and regulators. The 2022 Airshow was another critical step forward, and ADS and industry partners will continue to work to position the UK as a leading global market for the future AAM industry.