The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

On The Radar

Vancouver's Pioneers Make the Case For Inclusive Advanced Air Mobility

Los Angeles, Dallas, or Paris? In which of these gilded cities will the much-vaunted air mobility revolution first take hold? Or will it be Vancouver and the wider Cascadia region of the Pacific Northwest, where the new Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM) last week published its manifesto to democratize airlift options for residents, businesses, indigenous peoples, and public service providers.

CAAM was launched last week in an online event, unveiling an impressive array of partners, including local prospective eVTOL aircraft operators Iskwewair and Helijet, as well as manufacturer Wisk, ground transportation agency Trans Link and Vancouver International Airport. Importantly, the group also has the backing of Transport Canada, the provincial government of British Columbia, the Vancouver Economic Commission, Canada’s National Research Council, and Nav Canada. Four academic institutions are also on board: the British Columbia Institute of Technology, the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, and Simon Fraser University.

What came over loud and clear during the launch event is that CAAM does not view advanced air mobility as the sole preserve of the so-called “one percent.” The stakeholders are committed to a collaboration aimed at developing new air transport options for cities and rural areas right across Canada’s vast territory, with a strong emphasis how these can deliver benefits to a wide cross section of society using what the group describes as, “equitable, inclusive, resilient, intermodal and accessible elements of zero-emission aircraft.” A strong emphasis is being placed on including local indigenous communities from the “unceded and traditional ancestral territories of the Coastal Salish Peoples of the Squamish, Musqueam, Kikwetlem, Katzie, Kwantlen and Semyome Nations.”

To provide context and guiding principles for the project infrastructure and finance group Nexa Capital Partners has produced a white paper called Advanced Air Mobility Comes to Vancouver with CAAM and Crown Consulting. The report’s authors make the case that the greater Vancouver area has especially strong potential to capitalize on this new mode of transportation due to its coastal geography, socio-economic characteristics and the fact that helicopter services are already well established in the area.

The white paper is packed with the case for the opportunity that advanced air mobility promises. But its executive summary concludes with a warning that opportunity may knock early and only once: “It is important to point out that if the city fails to seize the opportunity, it will lose talent and capital to those cities that do.”