NBAA Offers Guidance on Advanced Air Mobility Integration Initiatives
In a recent statement, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has addressed two crucial initiatives aimed at facilitating the safe and seamless integration of advanced air mobility (AAM) into the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS).
Drawing from insights gathered through its AAM Roundtable and Emerging Technology Committee, NBAA has provided valuable input to government agencies concerning proposals that hold implications for pilots, manufacturers, infrastructure developers, and various stakeholders.
The first initiative involves NBAA’s response to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding the “Integration of Powered-Lift: Pilot Certification and Operations; Miscellaneous Amendments Related to Rotorcraft and Airplanes Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).” This endeavor aims to establish transition regulations, or Special Federal Aviation Regulations (SFAR), for pilot certification and operating rules to enable the commencement of services. (See the proposed rule here.)
Collaborating with organizations including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the Helicopter Association International, the National Air Transportation Association, and the Vertical Flight Society, NBAA has expressed several concerns pertaining to the proposal. Additionally, they have outlined practical suggestions to ensure safe pilot qualification and operations.
The concerned parties have highlighted that the proposal deviates from International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards for airman certification, placing undue burdens on powered-lift manufacturers and operators and introducing impractical mandates for powered-lift aircraft equipped with a single set of controls. Furthermore, the suggested rule fails to align with ICAO guidance regarding operational rules, limiting operators from fully utilizing the capabilities of these aircraft.
According to the associations’ collective commentary, “Unfortunately, this NPRM does not empower the development of powered-lift aircraft with the potential described by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The proposal for airman qualification creates a barrier for most AAM aircraft manufacturers to enter the U.S. market and the proposed operations rules create an uneven playing field for powered-lift aircraft, failing to take advantage of the many benefits provided by vertical takeoff and landing capabilities.”
The associations stress that aligning with ICAO standards will enable U.S. manufacturers and operators to meet the projected operations launch timeline in 2025 and ensure a thriving AAM industry in the United States for years to come.
NBAA Cautions IWG: Competition is “Fierce and Rapidly Advancing”
The second initiative involves NBAA’s dual-pronged recommendations to the Department of Transportation’s AAM Interagency Working Group (IWG), which was established following the passage of the Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act in October 2022.
As stated in the Request for Information (RFI), “As the IWG knows, the U.S. has been at the forefront of aviation leadership and innovation for decades. We have the potential to continue to lead the next phase in the evolution of aviation with AAM, but competition with other nations is fierce and rapidly advancing. Among other considerations, this means the FAA will need to keep pace with its promised regulatory schedule, so that the first AAM commercial operations can occur as soon as 2025.”
NBAA has underscored the paramount importance of safety while advocating for the timely and thoughtful introduction of AAM services. In the long term, the association has urged the agency to collaborate closely with stakeholders to facilitate gradual scaling of AAM operations. Additionally, NBAA has emphasized the need to foster community acceptance and address potential concerns stemming from the integration of on-demand air mobility services into the existing aviation system.
The RFI outlines, “The path to realizing the goals of advanced air mobility is a complex and multifaceted endeavor. However, by upholding a steadfast commitment to security, adhering to regulatory timelines, harnessing existing infrastructure and fostering community acceptance, we can pave the way for a future where the skies are not just a symbol of boundless potential but a tangible and integrated component of our modern transportation landscape.”
Highlighting the significance of this united industry approach for federal AAM planning, NBAA Chief Operating Officer Chris Rocheleau has emphasized that “Taken together, the industry’s input on these two key initiatives will inform the work needed to ensure that the U.S. remains the world’s leader in fostering the development, integration, and utilization of promising advanced air mobility technologies.”
View NBAA’s full comments here.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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