National Academies Press: OpenBook

Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective (2023)

Chapter: Chapter 3 - Use Cases and Applications for Urban Air Mobility

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Use Cases and Applications for Urban Air Mobility." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26899.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Use Cases and Applications for Urban Air Mobility." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26899.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Use Cases and Applications for Urban Air Mobility." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26899.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Use Cases and Applications for Urban Air Mobility." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26899.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Use Cases and Applications for Urban Air Mobility." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26899.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Use Cases and Applications for Urban Air Mobility." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26899.
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22 Use Cases and Applications for Urban Air Mobility This chapter discusses the motivation and primary use cases for UAM: Passenger Air Mobility, Air Emergency (Medical) Services, and Air Cargo. Applications and UAM aircraft operations for each use case illustrate the state of the industry worldwide. Use case considerations for airports help provide insight and practical guidance to airport industry practitioners. Many similarities exist between the early (20th-century) automotive industry and the emerging UAM industry. Both were first seen with skepticism, with an influx of new players competing to develop inno- vative modes of transportation to revolutionize existing transportation options. Success was credited to Henry Ford’s mass production model, which had profound impacts on virtually every industry at the time (Batchelor 1994). The same may also be valid for the UAM industry because the industry will need to scale to ultimately achieve success. Like the automobile industry, UAM may also create success in other sectors that can change how goods and services are transported. UAM has attracted substantial interest from industry stakeholders and investment capital providers worldwide. Within the first 6 months of 2020, $907 million flowed into the industry from investors (Hader and Baur 2020). The Uber Elevate conference and resulting white paper introduced many to the possibility of urban air transportation and the possibility of a new generation of aerial transportation that is cost-effective, clean, and widely available has garnered much attention. UAM companies are a mix of established players in aviation, major automotive companies, and entirely new players with little experience working with the FAA and airports. Some of the organizations that have advanced are strategically aligning with industry giants such as Airbus, Boeing, and Bell. Although Uber was a primary player initially, it has since sold Uber Air to Joby Aviation. Changes in the industry are constant. Cities and states are also competing to join the effort and partner with companies to bring UAM to their locations. After evaluating parameters relating to transportation habits, infrastructure, airspace regulations, and aviation operations, Frost and Sullivan found that the following cities emerged with top (10) scores (in descending order) regarding UAM readiness: London, Singapore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dubai, Seattle, Paris, Boston, New York, and Vancouver (Frost and Sullivan 2020). OEMs and service providers have indicated the potential for airports to take a lead role in UAM initiatives. They have expressed willingness to partner with airports but need information regarding an airport’s current status with regard to UAM, infrastructure, electrical capacity, workforce sustainability, and growth potential. Having a clear understanding of the airport’s resources (e.g., electricity pipeline, property land use, and microgrid capabilities) is important for preparation. It is also essential to gather information regarding demand (e.g., socioeconomic data, travel data, community support, and business development), which can foster productive discussions C H A P T E R 3 Key Points What are the emerging use cases and how are they evolving? • Air Cargo (First-Use Cases) – Medical – Food – Parcel • Passenger Air Mobility • Air Emergency (Medical) Services

Use Cases and Applications for Urban Air Mobility 23 between airports, OEMs, service providers, and planners to better facilitate multiple options for UAM integration. At the Vertical Flight Society’s 2021 technical meeting on January 26, 2021, Jay Merkle spoke about the possibility of type certification for a handful of aircraft for UAM operations in 2021–2022. At the time of this report, the FAA was working with 30 companies toward certification. TransportUP compiled a comprehensive list of 68 new-generation aerial vehi- cles, with a list of 18 leading manufacturers competing for the UAM market (see Figure 4) (TransportUP 2021). 3.1 Passenger Air Mobility Airports can play a primary role in the Passenger Air Mobility use case because their existing infrastructure is already primed for aviation. From the team’s market assessment, Air Metro will grow from $14 million to $2.7 billion between 2025 and 2035 for infrastructure operators. Not all operations will be at airports, however, and other plans for vertiports off-airport may have additional obstacles to overcome before construction can proceed, including • Noise considerations, • Zoning restrictions, Source: TransportUP 2021. Figure 4. TransportUP’s watchlist of the world’s leading eVTOL, flying car, and flying taxi manufacturers.

24 Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective • Electrical capacity to support new aerial vehicles, • Updating codes for existing buildings, • Allocating land in a densely populated area, and • Coordinating with multiple stakeholders in cities and states. With already established aerial operations, airports make a logical place to start for UAM. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), in 2019, there were approximately 5,080 public-use airports; UAM operations could use many of these. The airports where UAM operations may fit best are those that can handle the additional load of traffic or are underserved. General aviation and reliever airports may be critical locations that realize the most significant growth from the influx of operations expected. However, it may take an innovative approach to incorporate aircraft with smaller passenger capacity into operations at hub airports that may be at operational capacity or overloaded with higher capacity aircraft operations. This could be where locating operations on the landside of the airport may be more feasible. Examples of Use Case Applications The following current noteworthy use case applications may help airports understand the ways UAM operations may be adopted in their locations: • Los Angeles, California, has created a partnership with the Mayor’s office, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, and Urban Movement labs to make UAM a viable transpor- tation system in the city. They are currently mapping out locations and assessing designs for vertiports. • FlyOhio has worked extensively to research and implement UAM. FlyOhio has partnered with Ohio State University for a research project along the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor to test a low-altitude air traffic management system. Their next goal is to research information on infrastructure for vertiport locations to support eVTOL aircraft. • Utah Division of Aeronautics is studying its existing infrastructure to assess gaps and to develop planning efforts for needed infrastructure to facilitate AAM initiatives of Passenger Air Mobility, Air Cargo, and Emergency Services. • Hyundai Air Mobility is working on a new vision for urban transportation that is based on three interconnected mobility solutions. These solutions include a multimodal integration of UAM vehicles, mobility connection hubs, and purpose-built vehicles that resemble auto- mated shuttles for ground transportation to provide a modified network of transportation (Hyundai Motors 2020). • Lilium announced a partnership in Florida to create the first vertiport network in the United States. The first planned area will be the Lake Nona aerotropolis, contiguous to the Orlando International Airport, with over 75  million visitors annually. The network will connect Florida communities through the Lilium jet, which holds five passengers and is a fully elec- tric eVTOL. Lilium plans to build a $25 million, 56,000-square-foot vertiport to facilitate operations. Lilium anticipates generating 100 jobs and $1.7 million in economic activity in a 10-year period (Hawkins 2020). • Joby Aviation has developed an all-electric VTOL aircraft for UAM operations. Its latest air- craft has five seats and can fly at 200 mph (322 kilometers per hour) with a range of up to 150 miles. Joby has collaborated with the Agility Prime program to accelerate development for UAM. The company acquired Uber Air in late 2020 and is advancing its goals for FAA certification. Joby has agreed to a G-1 certification basis for its aircraft with the FAA. It hopes to be certified according to the FAA’s Part 23 requirements for normal-category airplanes, with special conditions to address specific requirements. Joby has the goal to launch commercial passenger service beginning in 2024. On September 1, 2021, Joby announced a collaboration with NASA to study the acoustic signature of their electric air taxi (NASA 2021a). Joby has

Use Cases and Applications for Urban Air Mobility 25 released multiple videos demonstrating the low noise profile and acoustic nature of its air- craft and how the aircraft differs from traditional helicopters. In its latest news releases, Joby compared its aircraft with helicopters and manned aircraft noise profiles. Although there are many critics of the possibility of reducing noise for aircraft, Joby has provided sources that appear to provide a much quieter noise profile than traditional aircraft. • Archer is an autonomous aerial vehicle company that has partnered with United Airlines to accelerate the production of advanced short-haul electric aircraft. Aviation Today reported the purchase of 200 eVTOL aircraft with the goal of investing in emerging clean technologies. Archer’s performance targets for the aircraft include a 60-mile range with a 150 mph cruise speed (Aviation Today 2021). On September 7, 2021, Archer announced that the FAA G-1 issue paper had been approved and signed, providing Archer with a path for certification with the FAA. • EHang is an autonomous aerial vehicle platform based in Guangzhou, China. EHang has been aggressively performing operations worldwide, and it has been testing its aircraft in multiple use cases, including passenger transport, air ambulance, heavy cargo delivery, medical supply, and firefighting. EHang has agreements with many countries to test its aircraft, including Austria, Canada, China, France, South Korea, Norway, Spain, and the United States. EHang, in partnership with the North Carolina DOT, has successfully flown a no-passenger test flight in North Carolina. EHang also completed passenger operations with its EHang 216 in China. In Hezhou, there are plans to deploy 20 of its two-seat aircraft and create an airport terminal specifically for UAM services (Shicong 2020). Of note, a modified version of the 216 has been equipped with firefighting capabilities to assist with the deployment of fire retardant for use on high-rise buildings. • Volocopter is an autonomous aircraft and vertiport manufacturer based in Bruchsal, Germany. Volocopter was the first air taxi developer to be awarded SC-VTOL Design Organization Approval by the European Aviation Safety Agency. Volocopter has been active in Singapore and aims to have its vertiport, identified as Voloports, across Singapore. It anticipates that each Voloport can handle 10,000 passengers a day. • XTI aircraft has received orders from an unidentified United States operator for 40 hybrid- electric TriFan 600 aircraft that it revealed at the Vertical Flight Society’s Forum 77 meeting. • On April 27, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing on “The Leading Edge: Innovation in U.S. Aerospace” to examine recent advances in innovation and discuss UAM infrastructure needs. The hearing included statements from Mayor Eric Garcetti on the UAM work in Los Angeles and from other stakeholders to educate the legislators and request further political support. Other associated efforts include The Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act, which authorizes the secretary of the DOT to establish an interagency working group to review and make recommendations for the federal role in supporting and maturing UAM systems (NBAA 2021). • REEF, a large mobility hub operator in North America for parking garages, has partnered on separate occasions with both Joby and Archer to provide access to thousands of sites in dense urban areas to use for vertiports. The goal is to use the rooftop locations for vertiports across the United States (Stonor 2021). 3.2 Air Cargo The Air Cargo use case has the most potential for the early stages of UAM. As determined by the research team’s market study, the Air Cargo market will reach nearly $2 billion by 2025 and just over $4.5 billion by 2030. Jonathan Bass, Google Wings’ head of marketing and commu- nications, suggests that the materials and costs of operations will be dramatically lower than ground delivery (Transport Topics 2021). UAS cargo delivery has already proved useful for

26 Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective the transport of lifesaving supplies for medical operations worldwide (Kolodny 2019). Medical Cargo delivery could provide intercampus delivery for hospitals, and deliveries to pharmacies, businesses, and homes. These deliveries could include equipment, vaccines, blood, pharmaceu- ticals, or organs for transplants. Future uses may also include additional options for Emergency Services, such as travel for doctors and their staff to assist with remote clinics. Air Cargo using an airport as a hub could prove lucrative, as described in Chapter 2. The return on investment could be several orders of magnitude larger than that of Air Metro or Air Medevac. Because of the scale of operations for UAM cargo delivery, airports will need to assess whether they have the required space for infrastructure to support mass package delivery. Other concerns include the security needed for package handling, as well as charging, ground, and air capacity to support extensive operations at the airport. To support operations, a fee-based system will be needed to collect revenue from cargo delivery operations because aviation fuel taxes are not applicable for this use case. Examples of Use Case Applications Below are examples of emerging use case applications for Air Cargo. • Through the FAA Integration Pilot Program, Memphis-Shelby Airport, home to FedEx’s largest and busiest hub, has operated a fleet of seven drones to evaluate their use in a dynamic airport environment. Memphis is the only one of the FAA drone pilot programs that performed in a commercial cargo and passenger airport’s heavily restricted airspace (Inside Unmanned Systems 2020). The airport hopes to eventually expand operations to other delivery applications. FedEx has used sUAS with success in the following areas: – General visual inspection – Security/perimeter surveillance – Foreign object debris detection – Wildlife management – Aircraft parts delivery • Flirtey was founded in 2013 and reports that it was the first drone delivery service in the world. In 2016, it conducted the first FAA-approved urban drone delivery in the United States in partnership with 7-Eleven. Flirtey has worked to bring UAS-based ambulance services and package delivery (Flirtey n.d.). • Google Wing, partnered with FedEx and Walgreens, completed the first commercial drone delivery in the United States in October 2019 (Elias 2019). Google Wing has also been operating in Australia to provide goods from pharmacies and hardware stores and/or food deliveries; they reached a milestone of 100,000 package deliveries (Subin 2021). • United Parcel Service (UPS) Flight Forward has partnered with CVS Pharmacy to provide package delivery in Florida. UPS hopes to expand services for future package deliveries to homes in coordination with its current package delivery options. CVS released a video showcasing an integrated package delivery truck where the UAS can fly autonomously while the driver delivers packages. • Flytrex is operating under Part 135 as a drone delivery service in the United States. Initially, Flytrex was part of the North Carolina FAA Integration Pilot Program, but it expanded operations to King’s Walk Golf Course in North Dakota. Operations started in 2018, and as of 2020, Flytrex had made over 1000 deliveries in Reykjavik, Iceland (Albrecht 2021). • EHang became the world’s first UAM company approved by a national aviation authority to carry out a commercial pilot operation for the category of 150-kg-plus heavy-lift air logistics uses. EHang is evaluating the use case of heavy cargo delivery to transport cargo between the ground and hilltops and shore and islands to assess its potential (EHang 2020). • Flirtey was the first company in the United States to perform an autonomous delivery of medical equipment, to a home in Reno, Nevada. It has worked toward equipping sUAS with

Use Cases and Applications for Urban Air Mobility 27 defibrillators to help save lives during a cardiac arrest event. It is also delivering saliva-based COVID-19 tests via sUAS to limit exposure to the disease. • Through the FAA’s Integration Pilot Program, North Carolina has performed many opera- tions for WakeMed Health and Hospitals. Medical cargo delivery with sUAS can address inefficiencies in supply chains, recover costs, and enable a broader healthcare delivery system redesign. UPS Flight Forward, which earned the necessary federal certifications to operate a drone airline, has an ongoing drone delivery service at WakeMed’s main campus in Raleigh. UPS Flight Forward and Matternet use sUAS to deliver healthcare equipment, medicine, and personal protective equipment to medical providers in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. Flytrex is another partner with North Carolina that is testing using sUAS for food delivery services serving multiple restaurants in a nearby neighborhood shopping center. • Zipline, a California-based sUAS delivery company, has found success worldwide, delivering lifesaving medical supplies to rural clinics. In Ghana, Zipline delivered more than 170 different vaccines, blood products, and medications to nearly 22 million people (Kolodny 2019). • Matternet, partnered with the Swiss Post, has used sUAS to deliver blood samples between hospitals. The Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation granted Matternet a certification to allow its sUAS to fly autonomously over cities at any time for this purpose. These operations were reported to be the first beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights supported by Swiss U-Space, Switzerland’s nationwide integrated airspace system (Sataloff et al. 2019). • The University of Maryland School of Medicine evaluated using sUAS for the transport of live organs. Time is crucial from the moment an organ is removed to the moment it is transplanted. Using sUAS can decrease the travel time, which can often extend the useful life of the organ. 3.3 Emergency Services The research team focused its Emergency Services research on Air Medevac for this report. Medical cargo delivery will be included in the Air Cargo section of this chapter. According to the team’s market assessment provided in Chapter 2, Air Medevac has the potential to grow from $33 million to $130 million between 2025 and 2035 for infrastructure operators. Many airports already have existing Air Medevac operations, and, over time, these fleets may transition to UAM vehicles. The changes required to support operations could also benefit other electrification efforts at airports. The electrical demands of Air Medevac are higher because of the rapid response rate. To compete with rotor-wing aircraft, Air Medevac would require a battery recharge rate of four times the current rate (Reiche et al. 2018). Significant changes may be necessary to improve the electric infrastructure at some smaller general aviation airports—including the use of exist- ing helipads and their proximity to the required charging infrastructure for eVTOL. However, the charging infrastructure would need to function without impeding traditional helicopter operations. Airports could play a key role as a hub for air medical use cases. For airports near underserved communities, it could provide opportunities to offer additional services that add revenue and support lifesaving operations. Example of Use Case Applications EHang has joined Ambular to build multiple eVTOL air ambulance vehicles to assist in medical emergencies. The Ambular aircraft consists of two designs. One is meant to carry two passengers, while the other is a pod to transport a single occupant. The use case for the pod acts as an intensive care unit fully encompassed in an aerial vehicle. It is meant to travel the last mile (by train or truck) for critical patients.

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Urban Air Mobility (UAM), or its generalized version, Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), is an emerging aerial transportation approach that involves the operation of highly automated aircraft for a safe and efficient system to transport passengers or cargo at lower altitudes of airspace within urban, suburban, and exurban areas. UAM initiatives are advancing in many communities and will likely bring many societal changes.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Research Report 243: Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective provides a comprehensive examination of the emerging UAM industry, with a particular focus on its impacts and opportunities for airports.

Supplemental to the report are an Airport AAM Preparation Checklist and a UAM Airport Assessment Toolkit.

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