Aerospace industry body ADS has called for UK government action in five priority areas to ensure the country is a “world leader” in advanced air mobility (AAM) services ahead of the start of air taxi operations.
In its report – Developing the eVTOL industry in the UK – ADS says the government must “lay the groundwork” for the launch of AAM passenger services by 2025 or risk being a “follower” of other nations.
“If the government continues to work with industry and takes action as recommended then we can lead the world; if we don’t then the UK will retain an important role but is likely to be a follower of other countries in this sector,” says Luke Bonnett, chair of the ADS AAM special interest group.
“Let’s grasp the opportunity to take the lead, move forward and get flying.”
ADS forecasts the AAM market will be worth $510 billion by 2040 and says with the right policy decisions the UK can become a sector leader globally.
“The UK can seize the economic, technological know-how, investment and export benefits associated with being one of the first locations for commercial eVTOL [electric vertical take-off and landing] passenger services.”
To meet that target, five areas will need to be addressed urgently by the UK government, says ADS: a well-resourced and -funded Civil Aviation Authority (CAA); a clear set of regulatory and policy requirements; immediate prioritisation of infrastructure; government support to foster public desirability; and safe, shared integration into airspace.
ADS allocates the CAA a central role in the process, as it must be in a position to “effectively and efficiently enable the development of this new industry”.
It argues that the CAA can shape certification requirements – while also ensuring global consistency – as well as defining other key areas such a pilot licensing, airspace integration, maintenance and regulations.
However, to provide the industry with the necessary “short-term clarity” this must be supported by a policy framework from the CAA and the Department for Transport, the report says.
“This should set out how each of the above issues will be addressed, the relevant rule-making mechanism required, and the timelines in which the rules will be developed and implemented.”
Certainty around the infrastructure requirements and planning policies will also be needed, it says, alongside engagement with the public to drive home the benefits of this new mode of transport.
“The government has been clear that it wants the UK to be one of the first countries in the world to routinely use eVTOL operation to benefit its people and economy.
“The core messages from this paper of a need for pace, certainty and investment will ensure that the UK can realise this ambition,” says ADS.
Contributors to the report include US-based Joby Aviation and UK firms GKN Aerospace and Vertical Aerospace. Vertical is developing a four-passenger eVTOL aircraft called the VX4.