FAA releases initial implementation plan for AAM


The FAA has released a first-stage implementation detailing the steps required to enable AAM operations in the near-term. 

The Innovate28 (I28) plan outlines a ‘flexible’ plan that can be updated periodically for AAM operations to be at scale at one or more sites by 2028. The administration said I28 will serve as a foundation for making AAM entry into service routine. It addresses areas such as certifying aircraft and pilots, airspace access, pilot training, infrastructure, security and community engagement. It also includes a planning guide integration objectives that can be applied to sites.

Deputy FAA Administrator Katie Thomson, said: “This plan shows how all the pieces will come together allowing the industry to scale with safety as the north star.”

Looking at operations, pilots will be able to fly AAM aircraft to and from multiple locations at the sites, using predetermined flight schedules with pilots aboard. Due to the operational altitudes (up to 4,000ft in urban areas) means they can use existing or modified low altitude visual flight rules (VFR) routes where possible within controlled Class B and C airspace, said the FAA.

In terms of infrastructure, operators, manufacturers and state and local governments will be responsible for developing and enabling vertiport infrastructure. AAM will first operate at existing heliports, commercial service airports and general aviation airports with modifications where necessary, said the FAA.

Power grid capacity is also an infrastructure issue. I28 notes that power grids may require upgrades to serve AAM operations. The FAA also has an interagency agreement with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab to determine how aircraft electrification affects an electrical grid.

Community engagement is going to be key to fine-tuning the plan, according to the FAA. 

It said it will engage with airports, and local, state and tribal communities to “better understand community concerns” about AAM operations. The environmental impacts of operations, including factors such as noise, air quality, visual disturbances, and disruption to wildlife will all be considered. 

Finally, the FAA said the Department of Homeland Security will be left to decided what type of security is necessary. Together they are evaluating the need for expanded cybersecurity requirements due to the use of advanced technology and operational protocols.

Commenting on the plan, former acting FAA administrator now Archer’s chief safety officer, Billy Nolen said: “The FAA is still very much on track to certify eVTOL aircraft and safely integrate them into the airspace in 2025, with the intent to achieve scaled operations by 2028.”

For more information, visit the FAA’s Advanced Air Mobility website.

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