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NEW White Paper: UAM “must incorporate needs of disabled citizens”

By Chris Stonor

A new White Paper published this week by CIVATAglobal and Aerobility stresses the needs of disability to be inclusive within the UAM revolution.

 The Paper says, “Regulators, local authorities and industry groups will need to incorporate the views and priorities of disabled groups in their early planning phase if the promise and full market value of advanced air mobility (AAM) and urban air mobility (UAM) systems are to be fully realised.”

Mike Miller-Smith

Mike Miller-Smith, CEO of UK-based disabled flying charity, Aerobility, affirms, “From the outset, UAM/AAM services must be planned with the needs of those who stand to benefit most from its introduction in mind – disabled communities.”He continues,Once beyond the prototype stage, autonomous air vehicle design will need to develop in ways that enable their use by visually impaired passengers and those requiring wheel-chair access for example, just as has been done and is required on many other urban transport networks.”

In December, 14 European cities delivered a manifesto to the EU calling on local authorities to play a key role in the development of UAM initiatives. The White Paper points out, “If this new transport era is to be fully realised it can only be done on the basis of inclusivity, to ensure the needs of disabled citizens are fully taken into account from the start.”

Andrew Charlton

Andrew Charlton, Director General of CIVATAglobal, adds,  “Our two organisations are now also calling for UAM plans to include representatives of disability groups at the earliest possible stage in the process. We want to get best-practice in accessibility built into the early development and DNA of the industry, so that those with most to gain are not left behind.”

According to the White Paper there are a number of key areas that should be immediately addressed:

Ensuring developers of UAM ground infrastructure and platforms fully take into account the needs of disabled passengers – and the non-travelling public – in considering issues of access and egress.

  1. Aviation safety regulators must take account of the needs of people with reduced mobility in their regulations.
  1. Aviation safety regulators must take account of the needs of people with reduced mobility in their regulations.
  1. In smart city programmes where autonomous vehicles are being planned (air and ground), it is vital that disabled community groups are incorporated into the earliest planning. Before eVTOLs are flying in our cities they will have to be given not just an aviation safety regulator’s certificate to fly but a licence from the communities they will be serving.

4. A repository of “best practices” from around the world needs to be launched so developers can understand not just the basic principles but the detailed engineering solutions.

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