The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

On The Radar

Los Angeles' Advanced Air Mobility Pioneers Share Their Inside Track on Transforming Public Transportation

Urban Movement Labs (UML) has published a guide for communities looking to include eVTOL aircraft in their mix of public transportation options. The public-private not-for-profit alliance, which is working with the city of Los Angeles, says that its publication Integrating Advanced Air Mobility: a Primer for Cities gives municipal and other government stakeholders an overview of the emerging advanced air mobility (AAM) technologies, as well as, “steps to consider during exploratory and initial planning phases, and considerations for the near future.”

The 65-page guide is based largely on work already done to bring AAM to sprawling Los Angeles. This covers almost two years of planning and policy formulation since Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti set up what is now called the Advanced Air Mobility Partnership.

Among the companies backing the partnership are eVTOL aircraft developers Archer, Supernal, Volocopter, and Overair as well as ride-hailing platform Blade and helicopter operator Helinet, which has plans to branch out from its current helicopter services. Both the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and its City Planning division are involved in the project as well. Joby and its customer Delta Air Lines also have plans to start eVTOL air services in Los Angeles.

The document provides a useful overview of the key aspects of the envisaged AAM ecosystem, including uncrewed traffic management for autonomous air taxis and vertiports. It discusses the potential for so-called multi-modal hubs that would contribute to the improved environmental sustainability of public transportation by pooling recharging facilities and new energy sources, such as solar, for multiple applications.

Some of the most useful guidance is based on UML’s experience to date in building engagement with all the organizations that can make or break the vision for AAM becoming a reality, spelling out five “waypoints” to follow. Beyond obvious imperatives such as safety, it makes the case for the following seven key principles to make AAM successful: sustainability, equity of access, low noise, multimodal connectivity, local workforce development, and purpose-driven data sharing.

The document also gives access to significant supporting documentation, including summaries of feedback received from public consultation in Los Angeles and the Urban Air Mobility Policy Framework published by the California mega-city’s transportation department.

The UML report’s authors, led by Clint Harper and colleagues Sam Morrissey and Rogelio Pardo, effectively confirm that Los Angeles does aim to be among the AAM early adopters with small-scale eVTOL air services expected to start in 2025. They urge other communities to join efforts to shape federal government policy to enable AAM development.