The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has released the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities to advance a vision “for America’s continued global leadership in aeronautics,” according to a White House press release. The National Aeronautics Science and Technology Priorities outlines the administration’s aerospace priorities – including integrating drones and eVTOLs into the National Airspace System and promoting Advanced Air Mobility technology research and implementation.
Here are the key policy statements for uncrewed airspace integration and AAM.
“Climate Action Plan and the Climate Adaptation Plans for each Federal department and agency. Maintaining the nation’s edge in aeronautics requires increased use of data, software, automation, and artificial intelligence to integrate drones, Advanced Air Mobility aircraft, and other emerging technologies into the National Airspace System. The U.S. Government will also transition its legacy systems, and modernize and adapt regulatory and operational structures. It will continue to invest in maintaining, enhancing, and advancing national security through superior aircraft and technologies, from subsonic through hypersonic technologies, that emphasize speed. The U.S. Government will also promote connectivity through supporting the development of Advanced Air Mobility to enable more connections to less utilized airports and underserved communities, and a competitive airline industry that results in lower costs for air travel.”
Transforming the NAS
“The U.S. Government will prioritize the efforts of the FAA’s NextGen Program to modernize the NAS. Emerging technologies, increasingly frequent commercial space launches, and high-altitude operations combined with increases in projected demand for traditional passenger travel and cargo shipments require a continued modernization of the air transportation system. The NAS of the near future will seamlessly manage complexity, become scalable, and dynamically adapt to a diverse set of users. Bolstered by the power of technology, this new paradigm will accommodate traditional aviation activities and the new entrants into the NAS. The safe integration of these aircraft at all levels of airspace challenges current monitoring systems; communications, navigation and surveillance infrastructure; and the regulatory environment. R&D will help mature these advanced technologies, supporting infrastructure, and the regulatory framework for the certification of new aircraft and technologies. As part of this transformation, the U.S. Government will prioritize the comprehensive integration of new aeronautics technologies, with the potential to transform aviation, in both urban and rural communities, creating new industries and jobs. These technologies include small drones and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) vehicles, such as electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft, and other highly automated electric passenger or cargo carrying aircraft. The future NAS will incorporate strategies for the safe, efficient integration of civil and national security operations, ranging from slow, low altitude operations with observers to those conducted beyond the pilot’s Beyond Visual Line-Of-Sight (BVLOS) at a variety of altitudes and speeds.”
Certifying new airspace users
“The U.S. Government will support updates to the regulatory framework for the certification of new aircraft and technologies, thereby fostering the safe, secure growth of the drone and AAM industries. The U.S. Government will continue to expand drone certification and integration to accommodate the multiple personal and business uses of drones in the NAS as well as support research and training at the many colleges and universities that offer drone programs. The U.S. Government will also promote the safety of pilots, passengers, and the general public by updating infrastructure, training, and certification processes to operationalize AAM services. The U.S. Government will support the development of scalable AAM solutions to permit the growth of applications such as cargo and package delivery and emergency services. It will maintain research facilities and upgrade as needed to keep pace with emerging technologies, including Vertical Lift Research Centers of Excellence, and test facilities such as flight simulation and wind tunnels. The future of flight is highly automated. Integrating autonomous processes and vehicles into the airspace of the future requires that autonomous vehicles have healthy self-monitoring systems and high-fidelity awareness of their surroundings, especially adjacent traffic. Certification of new vehicle architectures will need to ensure the reliability of the software and sensor suites to effect mature, safe, and stable flight. In October 2022, President Biden signed into law the Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act (Pub. L 117-203)6 to coordinate efforts to integrate new aviation technologies into NAS. Consistent with the law, the Department of Transportation (DOT) will work with relevant Federal departments and agencies to create a national strategy to implement the law, while ensuring continued U.S. leadership in these technologies.”
AAM operations and new connections
As the U.S. Government prioritizes the integration of new aerospace technologies into the NAS, these technologies have the potential to provide improved connectivity and speed to communities across the country. AAM vehicles operating as would-be air taxis have the potential to provide people with a new and exciting way to move around their communities. Drones flying at BVLOS can be used to transport high-value goods such as medical supplies point-to-point with unprecedented speed and efficiency. The U.S. Government will create pathways to ensure these technologies can be safely, equitably, and sustainably incorporated into the NAS, thereby promoting connectivity and speed.
“Air transportation must remain broadly affordable and accessible. AAM has the potential to transform commercial aviation, connecting underutilized airports in rural communities to other locations. Like high-quality roads, connectivity enables rural and underserved communities to access more opportunities. Future air transportation should serve all communities wherever they may live. In July 2022, the BidenHarris Administration announced a new set of disability policy priorities, which underscore the importance of inclusion, dignity, and non-discrimination. To this end, the U.S. Government will prioritize airport improvement projects, domestically and internationally, designed to increase mobility, expand access, and improve connectivity for people with disabilities and reduced mobility.”
Department of Defense
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, autonomy, aerothermodynamics, quantum sensing and other resilient position, navigation, and timing technologies are imperative for operational effectiveness. Advancements in renewable energy generation and storage, including electronic engines, more efficient batteries, and alternative fuels, are also critical. The electrification of future aircraft platforms will include electric propulsion systems that will achieve the national objective of netzero emissions by 2050.”
For more information