The US government has kicked off an information-gathering effort to help it prepare for a future that could include widespread operation of regional and intra-city small electric aircraft.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) on 16 May released a document requesting public feedback about developing what it calls a ”national strategy on advanced air mobility” (AAM).
“The rapid emergence of AAM is already challenging existing regulations and practices of all federal departments and agencies, says the DOT’s notice, dated 11 May. The “DOT and [Federal Aviation Administration] are working to develop and communicate to the public its regulatory concept of operations to safely enable AAM operations.”
AAM is a conceptual future transportation system composed of small, all-electric aircraft, including those intended to serve regional routes, and air taxis – the vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) designs envisioned as being urban air taxis.
The DOT’s effort follows a 2022 congressional mandate requiring it develop an AAM strategy by 2024.
For 60 days, the DOT is collecting comments specifically related to “safety challenges” and public acceptance of such aircraft. It seeks to identify how to best communicate with the public to “enable” the nascent industry.
The solicitation also asks respondents to suggest steps the US government should take in the coming years to “maximise the potential” for the electric aircraft industry to be viable.
“Please include descriptions of the operating areas, other transportation options available in the operating area, the supporting infrastructure for the conceptual ecosystem and the roles and expected involvement that private industry [and]… governments would have,” it says.
Additionally, the DOT’s notice requests public comment about the expected energy required by such aircraft, and whether the USA’s electricity grid is up to the task.