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Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective (2023)

Chapter: Chapter 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities for Urban Air Mobility

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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 5 - Impact Assessment and Opportunities 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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43   Impact Assessment and Opportunities for Urban Air Mobility As UAM draws closer to becoming a reality, municipal planners should begin identifying how this new form of urban transportation will affect the lives of their citizens. In particular, transportation and infrastructure planners have an opportunity to accommodate UAM systems and use them to enhance current and future developments in other sectors. Current work has largely focused on the development of new technologies—vehicles, automated systems, and battery storage—and the magnitude of the likely economic impact of UAM. However, it is important to better under- stand how UAM will affect airport developers and operators and their communities. In the following section, these impacts are framed around several variables, each representing a key group, operation, or aspect of the airport ecosystem. This analysis considers impacts on each variable from the following three primary standpoints: • Economic – How will UAM operations affect financial decision making for airport planning and operation, and what opportunities exist? • Operational – What changes in procedure will need to be made to incorporate UAM most efficiently into the daily activities of airport staff and passengers? • Policy/planning – How should incorporating UAM into airports affect the manner in which airports are planned and designed? The research team worked to ensure that the impacts addressed account for insights from the UAM market assessment, expert interviews, and best-practice guidance on airport planning and operation. This impact assessment is structured across two categories—impacts and opportunities— organized by a set of variables that represent specific aspects of airport planning, organizational principles, and stakeholders. Further, within each sub-category, impacts and opportunities are considered across the three UAM use cases defined explicitly and in greater detail in the market assessment. These three use cases are taken as the base unit of analysis within each variable because their specific operational considerations merit individual analysis. Where possible, assessment of impacts and opportunities is grounded in existing consider- ations and requirements for airport planning discussed in sources such as • FAA advisory circulars (ACs) and planning documentation; • Academic research and literature; • Industry/trade publications, working group reports, and presentations; C H A P T E R 5 Key Points • How will UAM affect airports? • What are opportunities for airports?

44 Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective • Standards-developing organizations’ recommendations and guidelines; and • Supplemental analysis of the airport market. In this analysis, the team identifies substantial impacts on airport planning and operation from each use case. Airport planners and municipal transportation authorities should take note of the following likely considerations: • Passenger Air Mobility. Because Air Metro operations are expected to focus on service to and from major United States airports, passenger transportation using this method will likely substantially impact airport operations across each major variable, in the following ways: – Increasing traffic to and from airports with additional spatial requirements and demand for various airport services – Creating potential challenges for airport grid maintenance and inspection schedules – Altering commercial aviation flight routes and scheduling to accommodate UAM flight routes to and from airports – Affecting the share of passengers traveling to/from airports using ground-based shared mobility services and taxi services – Changing the background noise profile for communities living in close proximity to airports • Air Cargo. Air Cargo operations are anticipated to serve a significant portion of Americans in the next 5 to 10 years as a result of the increased convenience and speed of rapid, last-mile delivery afforded by drones. It is further anticipated that these operations will be adopted relatively quickly, compared to the other use cases, and are likely to have significant effects on airport stakeholders and operators, such as the following: – Increased demand for consumer goods, leading to an increase in general freight shipping such as air freight transport – Increased demand on airport grid infrastructure and facility space – Security challenges for drone mitigation at United States airports – Increased demands on airport flight management infrastructure and personnel – New regulatory considerations for control and management of large, semi-autonomous fleets – Expanded access to rapid retail services for local airport communities • Air Medevac. In the United States, the air ambulance industry as a whole is anticipated to see significant growth in the near term because of the combination of rural hospital closings and improvements in the efficacy of emergency trauma care. Air Medevac may be poised to account for some portion of this growth, benefiting from reduced fuel costs over legacy rotor- craft air ambulances. As a result, airport planners should be mindful of potential impacts, including the following: – New considerations for routing/scheduling around emergency response flights – Increased power consumption and greater strain on the electrical grid from high-voltage, rapid-charging systems for electric aircraft – Expanded capabilities for the handling and storage of medical waste – New demand for space to create new Air Medevac transport bases – New regulatory frameworks for electrified medical flights – Improved access to emergency medical care for rural residents in proximity to major cities Stakeholders who seek to implement UAM face substantial challenges across various techno- logical, policy, and public-facing domains. However, the potential impacts on airport planning and operation may also bring substantial opportunities for invested stakeholders. In the area of financing UAM infrastructure at airports, existing federal sources of funding such as the Airport Improvement Plan (AIP) and Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) programs may provide some opportunities for both UAM and airport stakeholders to bring UAM services to their communities. Federal regulators have signaled a willingness to consider

Impact Assessment and Opportunities for Urban Air Mobility 45 UAM projects eligible for grants and reimbursements for development and may serve as an effective springboard for broader airport improvement projects that can enhance capacity, environmental sustainability, efficiency, and service. In addition, both Air Metro and Air Cargo create potential business development opportu- nities for airport and local community businesses through possible promotional partnerships. The fact that both UAM use cases are customer-facing may provide other local businesses with customer access that they do not currently have. Further, municipal and state planners and business development councils may benefit from partnerships with UAM development coali- tions to create cost-sharing arrangements or other mechanisms that bring UAM services to their communities. Finally, local healthcare providers and regional or reliever airports may find advantages in partnerships with Air Medevac providers seeking to establish bases. This could improve healthcare outcomes for local communities and expand emergency care. 5.1 Urban Air Mobility Impacts on Airports Over the next 15 years, the International Air Transport Association forecasts a steady growth of 2.5 percent in the legacy United States air passenger market in the face of a worldwide growth rate of 3.7 percent over the same period (International Air Transport Association 2019a). Although the 2019 Air Cargo market is experienced a slight downturn because of ongoing inter- national trade tensions, experts anticipate a near doubling of the industry over the next few decades. The International Air Transport Association reports negative worldwide air freight market growth across 2019 (International Air Transport Association 2019b); however, Boeing projects long-term growth between 2017 and 2037 (Boeing 2017). The inclusion of UAM in United States transportation systems may compound this expected growth and impact national airports in various ways. Yet, there is still uncertainty around the impacts of the pandemic caused by COVID-19. The full impacts are still not fully understood and may change initial forecasts and timelines. Use Case: Passenger Air Mobility Passenger, Cargo, and Aircraft Activity. Air Metro traffic may drive significant increases in passenger activity over the next few decades, particularly at more mature stages. Such activity is likely to affect airports’ passenger-facing facilities and their operation across several fronts, including the following: • Expanding airport transit systems and allotting space for UAM facilities • Increasing utility and resource consumption • Increasing revenue from food, beverage, and retail sales In the near term, Air Metro is expected to arrive in select United States cities with routes to and from major hub airports (e.g., Dallas/Fort Worth or Los Angeles International airports). Such hubs currently have the capacity to absorb some amount of new passenger activity and may lease space to UAM facility developers and operators. However, vertiport design and placement decisions may affect the movement of passengers throughout the airport. For example, if vertiports are constructed on top of parking facilities, UAM passengers may simply move to and from the airport terminal building like all other passengers. In contrast, if vertiports are constructed elsewhere on the airport grounds (e.g., on or near rental hangars), airports may need to extend passenger transport systems, such as automated people mover systems, to connect UAM verti- ports and airport terminals.

46 Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective At more mature stages of UAM development, high UAM passenger volumes in many major United States cities may drive large amounts of traffic to and from major airports. In such a scenario, it is likely that significant airport real estate may need to be allocated for UAM vertiports and larger “vertihubs.” More specifically, high passenger volumes may result from the airport as the passenger origin-destination and from major UAM hubs serving as a connection point for popular routes. In addition to spatial considerations, such increases may drive higher utilization of facility utilities (e.g., water, electricity), as well as retail and concession consumption. Operations and Maintenance. UAM passenger transport will function in unique ways compared to legacy aviation, such as using large-capacity charging equipment and a rapid oper- ating cadence, which will create specific concerns for maintenance operations at United States airports, including potential changes to the preventative maintenance scheduling for landing pads and procedural differences in the inspection and care of high-voltage charging systems. Early-stage UAM operations will likely require some changes to sections of airport agreements with the FAA that involve operations and maintenance of facilities, particularly as they relate to pad maintenance. There is some uncertainty regarding the degree to which eVTOL (or hybrid variants) will cause more wear on landing pads than traditional rotorcraft, and additional study will be prudent. Nonetheless, airport maintenance staff will need to be mindful of necessary changes to preventative and remedial maintenance procedures. As UAM operations scale and adoption grows, airports could see substantial increases in traffic to vertiports located at or near airports. Many UAM stakeholders foresee a greater volume of operations than is typical with legacy rotorcraft. Under this scenario, preventative mainte- nance schedules will likely need to be modified, along with the airport’s FAA operating agreement on maintenance and operation. In addition, the operating and maintenance needs of the electrical charging infrastructure required for UAM may differ substantially from that of existing electrical systems. Safety and Security. Implementation of UAM passenger transport will create new safety and security issues for airport operators. The FAA has cited professional aviation organizations in briefings describing the importance of safety and security in a holistic understanding of UAM development. The FAA is particularly interested in the safe integration of technologies such as UAS into the national airspace (FAA 2019a). These issues are likely to cause significant impacts on airport stakeholders, including • Safety risks associated with integrating new forms of flight into legacy aviation airspace, • New cybersecurity threats arising from the increasing integration of computers with flight systems, and • Safety and security risks prompted by increasing levels of autonomy. Regardless of the degree of short-term adoption of UAM Air Metro service, passenger- carrying commercial eVTOLs will likely require attention for critical safety and security issues. First, eVTOLs, though similar in operation to rotorcraft, may require different considerations for safe routing around airports because of differences in performance (e.g., maximum flight time, operating speeds, and pilot control). Second, unlike legacy aircraft, computer-controlled systems will likely be native components of the overall system, creating the potential for safety and security risks from misuse, accident, or deliberate attack. Though preventing or mitigating these risks largely falls to the vehicle and UAM ecosystem designers, airport operators must be aware of functional implications for the safety of airport personnel and customers in the event of accidents. In the longer term, many anticipate a future of UAM in which increasing levels of autonomy are introduced to both UAM vehicles and traffic management systems. Caution on the part of

Impact Assessment and Opportunities for Urban Air Mobility 47 regulators to permit autonomy at any level of aviation is well-founded; modern autonomous systems—anchored in exotic machine learning and artificial intelligence platforms—are not well understood and may create significant uncertainty for operators in their proximity. Journalists at the MIT Technology Review point out that most machine learning (and artificial intelligence, more generally) algorithms operate in a “black box” whose inner workings often produce results unintuitive to humans (Knight 2017). Potentially unpredictable autonomous systems behavior may affect airport-based traffic controllers, ground support staff, and flight crews. Infrastructure. Facilities to support UAM passenger operations will be similar in many ways to those required for small, regional air carriers. A potential area of difference may be how airside, curbside, and landside facilities are arranged in relation to one another. Some vertiport concepts are modeled on traditional airports, while others demonstrate a high degree of inte- gration of passenger arrival, boarding, and departure areas. The concepts chosen will have to balance regulatory considerations, feasibility, and functionality and will likely affect airports in several ways, such as • Spatial considerations, allotment, and planning for vertiports; • New forms of charging systems and associated changes to airport electrical grids; and • Increased demands on airport infrastructure used to support planning and logistics. Even in the early years of UAM integration, airport operators should anticipate significant changes in the infrastructure needed to support operations. First, UAM vertiports—in whatever form they eventually take—will affect the allotment of space at United States airports. Depending on the scale of operations, UAM service providers may require facilities ranging in size from that of current heliports to larger, multi-pad areas with dedicated passenger terminals (see Figure 10). In addition, these facilities will likely require new forms of charging systems that directly affect an airport’s electrical infrastructure. Figure 10. Assessment of unit-development costs for types of UAM infrastructure.

48 Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective In the longer term, stakeholders may see these challenges grow in scope. The expansion of UAM to a significant number of airports may create financial challenges for airport development and maintenance. Further, UAM infrastructure operators may begin to compete with legacy airport users for federal support funding, including grants and disbursements. Indirectly, growth in UAM operations may also create hurdles for airport infrastructure used to support logistics, planning, and operations. As pictured above, the costs to create a single-pad vertipad, which provides network density for UAM operations, are expected to reach $1.2 million. Vertihubs, which are envisioned as the airport-centric node of a city’s UAM passenger network, may cost as much as $30 million. In the middle, vertiports may cost about $12 million and will be used to add density and improve throughput at major sites (e.g., convention centers) in urban areas. As electric vehicle charging increases, more outlets per charging site are expected. The result could provide a decrease in hardware costs and the expectation that the cost per unit would decrease in the future (Nicholas 2019). Stakeholders. Few stand to be affected by the adoption of UAM Air Metro as significantly as airport stakeholders (perhaps excepting UAM passengers). The livelihoods of airport stake- holders depend on the efficient and cooperative operation of airport systems. As a result, this diverse set of stakeholders should be mindful of potential impacts of UAM passenger operations, including the following: • Likely impacts on TNCs from competition between UAM and ground-based shared mobility services • Increased competition for airport services and real estate from the addition of UAM operations • Changes to daily life for airport communities arising from noise and new mobility • Necessary input from governmental organizations on UAM rollout requirements In the early stages, the integration of Air Metro at airports is likely to drive significant changes for transportation stakeholders—most notably TNCs, who may be competing with UAM for passenger trips to and from airports. However, these impacts may change if TNCs are able to integrate their ground-based shared mobility services with UAM, as Uber intends to do (Haines 2019). Airport businesses may also be affected by the construction or renting of space for UAM bases, driving increased demand for airport space. In any case, planning for early UAM operations will require input from local and federal governmental organizations on vehicle certification, airspace management, and local transportation network planning. At more mature UAM stages, significant increases in adoption—possibly driven by reduced unit pricing or expanded availability—may be sufficient to increase air travel access and conve- nience. In this scenario, airport stakeholders like airlines stand to benefit from increased passenger demand, which may drive additional business for service providers like operators of garages, hotels, and MRO providers. UAM may also drive changes for airport communities, whom the FAA has identified as being important to proper airport planning. FAA Advisory Circular 150/5050 outlines best practices for incorporating community feedback into airport planning on issues such as noise, local business development, and airport access (FAA 2016). Such changes, such as increased mobility, may be positive, while others, such as increases in ambient noise, may create challenges. Community. Airport communities may face significant noise and environmental impacts as Air Metro use grows and brings service to many United States airports. As groups like Airbus’s Altiscope have pointed out, perception of UAM noise will be one factor determining its level of acceptability to the public. In fact, according to research by Altiscope, noise associated with electric propulsion was considered more annoying than equivalent noise levels for automobile

Impact Assessment and Opportunities for Urban Air Mobility 49 traffic (Altiscope 2018). Similarly, environmental impact is one of the most often touted reasons to support UAM transportation. For both, airport communities may expect significant changes from Air Metro, chief among them being • Likely increases in ambient urban noise and a rise in overall daily noise disturbances, • Potential reductions in engine exhaust accompanied by externalized increases in electrical power production, and • Increased use of batteries, potentially increased environmental contamination. In the early years of UAM Air Metro, some degree of noise from UAM vehicles may affect airport communities. However, it is unclear how that noise profile will differ from conventional rotorcraft. What seems more apparent is that low-level rotorcraft are likely to increase levels of ambient urban noise. In addition, the limited adoption of UAM vehicles at early stages may reduce local air pollution (e.g., smog) through the conversion of some number of ground-based trips to UAM trips. At more advanced stages, airports will likely see increasing utilization of UAM vehicles. As noted above, UAM passenger trips may displace a substantial number of ground-based vehicle trips, which predominantly use fossil fuels, and may thereby contribute to substantial decreases in air pollution and contaminants. However, increasing utilization of electric aircraft may create new challenges for efforts to minimize ground-based contamination. Specifically, lithium-ion batteries use fluids that may contaminate groundwater and soil when spilled, which could pose a larger risk in more mature operations. Use Case: Air Cargo Of all UAM use cases, the drone delivery model for Air Cargo appears most likely to see significant adoption in the short term. Last-mile drone delivery organizations like Google’s Wing have already begun commercial deliveries, and Amazon’s Prime Air service is anticipated to begin operation in the near future. Amazon announced plans in June 2019 to begin operations “within a few months” (Bartley and Ridzuan-Allen 2019). Forecasters such as Morgan Stanley project strong adoption of this delivery model in both urban and rural areas because of rapid delivery speeds and automation efficiency. Passenger, Cargo, and Aircraft Activity. With the first drone delivery operations beginning in late 2019, many major corporate stakeholders aim to begin wide-scale commercial operations in several retail-delivery spaces. As noted in Chapter 3, Google Wing, partnered with FedEx and Walgreens, completed the first commercial drone delivery in the United States in October 2019 (Elias 2019). In both the near and long term, these operations are likely to affect activity around airports in several important ways, including increasing the traffic of aircraft in controlled airspace surrounding airports and prompting growth in air freight shipping operations based in major airports. In the short term, drone delivery companies may wish to operate at or near airports. As the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics points out, more than half of Americans live within Mode C veil airspace, or heavily controlled airspace within about 35 miles of an airport, a number that is anticipated to grow in coming years (RTCA, Inc. 2017). Because these popula- tions represent a majority of the addressable drone delivery market, many operators may see logistical benefits from operating within this airspace, even if the drone base is not part of the airport. This presents potential logistical challenges for traffic management of manned aircraft in the area that many are currently working to address. In the longer term, it is anticipated that higher levels of autonomy may enable operators to pursue more complex operations. This will likely further increase aircraft activity in the airspace

50 Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective near airports and may require more advanced forms of UTM. Such systems may include additional ground-based infrastructure or human oversight. Further, if the popularity of drone- based delivery grows in the ways expected, it will likely prompt upstream increases in legacy air freight shipping of commercial and retail products. Operations and Maintenance. While drones used for cargo delivery are unlikely to overtly affect airport maintenance practices (e.g., runway wear and tear), increasing use of sUAS to deliver packages may produce substantial direct and indirect challenges from their introduction to maturity, such as • Driving increases in consumer purchases and air freight cargo, leading to greater maintenance demands on facilities; or • Creating new demands on electrical grid infrastructure, both in overall draw and in instan- taneous usage. In the short term, cargo delivery via drone may have several indirect impacts on airport maintenance operations. In particular, airports may have to contend with increased main- tenance requirements for freight storage, sorting, and logistics systems located on-site. This may arise from increased consumer demand for retail delivery driving growth in legacy air freight markets. Maintenance impacts may include increased wear on transport and sorting systems for air freight, as well as greater utilization of processing facilities. Looking ahead, a more mature Air Cargo market may drive the same set of indirect impacts discussed above while also directly affecting airport maintenance through on-site drone delivery operations. Drone delivery that operates directly from airports may create new challenges for airport operations and maintenance from airport-based facilities that place new demands on airport electrical grid systems. Safety and Security. The FAA’s implementation of the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) system has provided air traffic professionals with better control and awareness of drones operating at or near airport airspace. The LAANC system allows drone operators to receive airspace flight authorizations in real time while providing data about their flights to other airspace users (FAA 2019b). Although this capability will help airport personnel improve operational awareness of drone operations in their space, Air Cargo traffic may create new challenges for safety and security, such as the following: • Safe routing of drones and other aircraft through airport airspace • Security threats from malicious drones or accidents from improperly controlled drones • Risks to people on the ground from large fleets of more autonomous drones In the short term, increasing drone traffic around airports is likely to create challenges for safe airspace management. Logistical challenges for route planning of other aircraft in the area are likely as Air Cargo operators begin to operate drones. In addition, groups like the Transporta- tion Security Administration (TSA) have identified drones as a technology whose increasing usage is likely to pose potential incursion threats to United States airports. Lawmakers and policy- makers are currently divided on an appropriate response to drone incursions at United States airports (Sands 2019). As Air Cargo traffic increases, airport operators may need to address procedures for how to handle such incursions. As Air Cargo reaches more mature states, these challenges are likely to grow. More sophisticated drones, management systems, and risk management procedures can likely lessen some safety and security impacts, but experts anticipate emerging problems. For example, large drone fleets may burden dedicated aviation communication channels, which could create issues for the safe management of other aircraft. In addition, greater autonomy used in sUAS traffic management could create issues for the safe operation of vehicles, people, and other property at the airport.

Impact Assessment and Opportunities for Urban Air Mobility 51 Infrastructure. According to the Airports Council, over $128 billion in infrastructure spending will be required by 2023 to meet anticipated growth in air passengers and cargo. In fact, 56 percent of new infrastructure spending is expected to be necessary to repair, upgrade, or expand existing terminals (Airports Council International 2018). Critically, this spending only accounts for legacy forms of aviation. UAM use cases like Air Cargo will likely require significant additional funding and considerations to be fully realized, including new demands for space and airport facilities and increased burdens on airport infrastructure to maintain acceptable transfer times and departure schedules. At early stages, as operations create new demands for retail goods, Air Cargo operations may require airport planners to examine freight movement around the airport. If it is economical, Air Cargo operators may house drone fleets at the airports, creating new demand for airport space, facilities, and utilities. Because the majority of cargo deliveries will be small packages weighing under 5 pounds and throughput will likely be high volume, these facilities may differ in size from many current-generation, large-freight storage facilities. At later stages, more mature Air Cargo operations could create substantial increases in air traffic around the airport. This may create challenges for airport infrastructure devoted to airspace management, routing, and logistics that will need to be addressed, including new facilities for human airspace management or ground-based equipment such as radar, radio antennae, and other detection/communications equipment. Necessary additions in the latter category will depend in part on the certifiability and feasibility of communications, navigation, and surveillance systems for sophisticated drone fleets. Stakeholders. Air Cargo operations present an opportunity to transform local economies through rapid parcel delivery at potentially cheaper unit costs, particularly in rural areas. The Wall Street Journal notes that the cost-effectiveness of drone delivery depends on the efficiency of routes compared to ground-based transport, which is easier to solve along sparsely populated urban delivery routes (Winkenbach 2019). This opportunity invites particular impacts—some beneficial and others challenging—for many classes of airport stakeholders, who operate at a critical nexus of transportation infrastructure. Such impacts may include • Regulatory challenges associated with operating drone fleets within controlled airport airspace and greater autonomy of operation and • Community challenges associated with added noise from the new delivery service. Upon introduction, the scale of Air Cargo operations is unlikely to create significant impacts on airport space or infrastructure at most airports. However, a significant increase in the amount of drone traffic through the veil of airport airspace will likely create new challenges for regulators and airport traffic management stakeholders. Additionally, drone delivery operations based at airports may create demand for a new form of MRO services to maintain large drone fleets. At greater stages of maturity, drone fleet operators are likely to benefit from increasing auto- mation of drones, as well as their networking and control infrastructure. This high degree of automation will create challenges for regulators, who have often struggled with risk-appropriate oversight of autonomous systems in aviation. Oliver Wyman, reporting for Forbes, attributes current reluctance to approve autonomous BVLOS drone operations to uncertainty around the performance characteristics of current-generation (Wyman 2018). Further, as operations grow, retail-delivery drones may become ubiquitous in local airspace. As a consequence, local communities may have to deal with noise-related challenges even as the delivery services create new conveniences. Community. At present, virtually all consumer last-mile delivery is performed using ground- based vehicle fleets (e.g., the United Parcel Service or FedEx). A robust Air Cargo industry would

52 Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective displace some degree of those deliveries using lightweight, autonomous, electrified drones and may impact communities in terms of changes in ambient noise and environmental effects. Specifically, airport planners should be mindful of impacts such as • Increased noise above standard levels for communities in the Air Cargo service area and • Likely decreases in carbon dioxide emissions from decreasing reliance on ground-based transport. As UAM Air Cargo deliveries begin entering service, communities may begin to see relatively quick adoption, compared with other UAM use cases. Particularly in more rural areas, where ground-based transport is less economical than in urban areas, drone delivery may begin to displace a substantial number of ground-based trips. Growth in aerial drone traffic may substan- tially affect community noise profiles, as sUAS are loud enough to be heard over ambient traffic noise, particularly in urban settings. At more advanced stages, airport communities may begin to see a high degree of drone delivery traffic, creating additional ambient noise challenges that may need to be addressed through scheduling, zoning, or noise-dampening technologies. Regarding environmental impacts, drone traffic displacing ground-based travel will likely reduce emissions of gases like carbon dioxide, though most package delivery is done with natural-gas-burning vehicles, which produce fewer emissions than gasoline-powered vehicles. However, this will also be accompanied by the increasing use of electrical power, which has variable environmental impact depending on how power is generated. Communities will need to balance costs associated with different forms of power generation with feasibility and environmental concerns. Use Case: Air Medevac One of the major drivers of medical flight costs, according to the Association of Air Medical Services, is the variable cost of helicopter fuel. According to the Association of Air Medical Ser- vices, high operational costs are being passed on to patients because of lagging insurance cover- age (Association of Air Medical Services 2017). Further, demand for air ambulance services is growing, in part spurred by rural hospital closures and improved treatments for strokes and cardiac events. Other factors include changes to federal medical programs that incentivized the proliferation of air medical services (Tozzi 2018). UAM passenger-carrying vehicles represent a possible solution to these problems and may affect the operational activities of United States airports as a result. Passenger, Cargo, and Aircraft Activity. Growth in air ambulance traffic broadly is likely to affect airport activity through increased air traffic around urban airspace. Although UAM vehicles could effectively improve air medical transport, this technology is likely to increase air traffic significantly—traffic that is generally given priority routing. As a consequence, airport operators must be prepared to contend with impacts such as • Potential issues regarding scheduling aircraft around emergency medical UAM flights and • Facilities planning to accommodate increasing utilization by Air Medevac operators. At early stages, the adoption of UAM vehicles for medical flights is likely to be more gradual than in other use cases. As a result, airport operators may expect few major shifts in aircraft activity around airports. What medical flights using electric VTOL aircraft do occur will function similarly to current rotor air ambulance missions, which are given priority flight clearance by the FAA over all traffic save aircraft in distress. The FAA grants priority clearance to flight plans filed using the call sign “MEDEVAC” (FAA 2015a). This can have secondary impacts on arrival/departure scheduling at airports of all sizes that must be addressed.

Impact Assessment and Opportunities for Urban Air Mobility 53 Current trends in survivability for heart attacks and strokes are expected to continue but depend on rapid treatment. In many cases, particularly for rural patients or those not near major hospitals, air transport is the only realistic way to overcome time constraints. According to the Wall Street Journal, half of major heart-attack victims in the United States lack timely access to the most highly recommended treatment options (Winslow 2007). Assuming that UAM vehicles are well-suited for medical missions, adoption in the longer term is likely to grow in major metropolitan areas. As a result, airport operators and those involved in air traffic control may have to contend with an increasing number of medical flights, which will require more bases equipped to handle Air Medevac flights (i.e., to charge, maintain, and prepare for missions), which could affect planning of airport facilities and spaces. Operations and Maintenance. As with the Air Metro use case, it is probable that Air Medevac will require airport maintenance staff to re-evaluate procedures for inspecting and maintaining landing areas and taxiways for aircraft. However, given the differences in anticipated market sizes between Air Metro and Air Medevac, the overall degree of impact for airports may be less for the latter use case. Regardless, airport operators can benefit from addressing various impacts, such as • Changes in the rate of degradation of landing pads and taxiways and • High power draw for charging systems affecting electrical infrastructure. For early Air Medevac use cases, airport maintenance operators should be mindful to observe how UAM vehicles affect landing pad and taxiway wear. It is currently unclear to what degree eVTOL aircraft will affect landing structures compared with legacy rotorcraft. In addition, charging infrastructure for electric aircraft will likely require high-voltage equipment to support rapid and high-capacity charging of vehicles. These systems may be more susceptible to various types of damage from excess heat or high currents. At full maturity, such forms of wear and tear may require revising of schedules for preventa- tive maintenance and inspection. These schedules are generally used both for the benefit of the airport and to demonstrate compliance of the airport with the FAA. Wide adoption of UAM vehicles for medical air transport could require substantial changes to these procedures and their associated compliance requirements. Safety and Security. The nature of air ambulance flights involves a certain degree of risk; flights are on demand, are often rapid response, and may require minute-by-minute adjust- ments to flight clearances, routing, and take off. Failing to prepare for these operational realities can create delays that risk harm to patients and cause problems for the airports from which the ambulances operate. Airport stakeholders would benefit from consideration of impacts, including • Increased power demand and the presence of high-voltage power supply systems and • Proper storage/handling of medical waste and how it is carried by eVTOL vehicles. As early Air Medevac operations begin in select cities, airport planners may need to address planning challenges related to operating bases for medical transport eVTOL. In particular, electric aircraft create new power consumption demand challenges for airport infrastructure. These challenges include the magnitude of power usage spikes, as well as the likely increase of overall power consumed. High-voltage power systems may create potential occupational health and safety issues for ground crews and airport maintenance staff. As operations scale up and reach more mature stages, the number of air ambulance operating bases is likely to grow. This will likely mean increasing use of airport space for such bases and a commensurate rise in eVTOL traffic and transportation of medical supplies and equipment. Such systems may require airport operators and stakeholders to revise procedures for the safe

54 Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective storage and handling of medical waste. Further, the safety of patients transported using UAM vehicles remains relatively uncertain compared to legacy aircraft. Airport operators may benefit from preparing ways to manage risks to patients and medical flight crews. Infrastructure. Air Medevac service has the potential to radically improve urban medical response. Combined with new medical procedures that increase the survivability of severe traumas, it is reasonable to anticipate strong demand for such a service. However, such services will likely entail some challenges for airport infrastructure planning and operation, including • Airport facility and spacing allotment to create new Air Medevac bases and • Growth in the supporting infrastructure required to properly manage airport traffic. Near-term Air Medevac infrastructure needs will likely be limited, requiring space comparable to current air ambulance (rotorcraft) facilities. However, a key difference is that Air Medevac will require the expansion of electrical grid infrastructure to support high-voltage charging. One way this can affect infrastructure needs is the increased risk of electrical fires from battery failures. The FAA has highlighted “thermal runaways” as one of the primary risks associated with lithium-ion battery technologies in AC 20-184 (FAA 2015b). Facilities to house Air Medevac operations will need to account for these risks in the design and implementation of appropriate fire suppression systems. At more mature stages, it is anticipated that the United States air ambulance market as a whole is expected to expand significantly, which may drive increased utilization of electrified UAM vehicles. Airport operators may expect growth in the number of Air Medevac bases at airports of varying sizes, which will create new demands on infrastructure such as facilities, pad space, the electrical grid, and route planning. Given how medical flights are prioritized over other traffic (save distressed aircraft), increases in the number of medical flights by UAM vehicles may alter scheduling and on-time metrics. Stakeholders. Airport stakeholders may see substantial near and long-term impacts from the successful adoption of UAM-based air ambulance service. In particular, a diverse set of airport stakeholders will be affected by Air Medevac operations based in airports, as well as operations in protected airspace. To accommodate this new service, airport planners and stake- holders must be prepared to contend with a variety of direct and indirect impacts, including • Improved access to emergency medical treatment for communities near local airports, • New medical flight management challenges for national aviation regulators and local law- makers, and • Increased demand for space and resources at airports among airport businesses and operators. In the early years of Air Medevac, the stakeholders most directly affected are likely to be community members in proximity to the base of operations. These stakeholders are likely to benefit from rapid, maneuverable aircraft able to deliver lifesaving medical treatment. Further- more, given the relative infrequency of medical flights, average ambient noise levels are unlikely to increase significantly. However, regulators may need to reconsider oversight guidelines for emergency flights using electric propulsion, as they may affect requirements for range, speed, and payload. In addition, local regulators may need to determine how best to incorporate emergency transport via eVTOL into existing air medical services. In advance of the mature stage, airport planners and those affected by their decisions, such as on-premises tenants and business stakeholders, will likely have to incorporate an increasing number of bases for Air Medevac (and air ambulances more broadly) at area airports. Such facilities will require space and new infrastructure for charging and will likely increase demand for limited airport space.

Impact Assessment and Opportunities for Urban Air Mobility 55 Community. Near-term growth in United States air medical transport is likely to be driven by decreasing rural access to medical care and improved treatment options. Consequently, airport communities may be affected by noise and environmental factors related to UAM Air Medevac, including • Changing ambient noise profiles from UAM vehicles that are likely to be exempted from standard noise ordinances aimed at passenger transport and • Emerging environmental concerns from new medical flight base construction and vehicle emissions. Early in the adoption of UAM Air Medevac, airport communities may see some number of medical flights using rotorcraft replaced by UAM aircraft. Currently, there is no clear consensus on the differences in ambient noise created between legacy rotorcraft and distributed electric propulsion vehicles like those being developed for UAM. In any case, medical flights may necessitate special consideration for noise, as they will likely not be subject to flight restrictions that are otherwise used to reduced community noise and disturbances. At more mature stages of Air Medevac, airport stakeholders and their communities may anticipate significant growth in the construction of support bases. Increasing construction of this type may necessitate increased consideration of environmental impact and land use. In addition, replacing traditional rotorcraft medical flights, which use conventional aviation fuels, with electrified UAM aircraft may result in significant decreases in carbon emissions and associated environmental contamination and air pollution. 5.2 Urban Air Mobility Opportunities for Airports With or without UAM, the United States airport industry and its stakeholders are likely to see significant changes in coming decades. Airport planners should be prepared to address emerg- ing trends such as the following: • Growth in air passenger travel and freight shipping. • Efforts to modernize United States airspace management through programs such as the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation (NextGen) program. The NextGen program is due to be fully integrated by 2025 and includes new technologies and procedures designed to better integrate and standardize information sharing, communications, and navigation (FAA 2019c). • Increasing access to large amounts of consumer data. Use Case: Passenger Air Mobility Financing. As with any potentially disruptive technology, Air Metro will likely require significant investments to bring operations to United States cities. In particular, infrastructure requirements present potential financing challenges for service providers. However, existing programs offer potential avenues to mitigate financial risk across stakeholders and create opportunities for UAM service, including the following: • Infrastructure planning support from the FAA’s AIP. Through AIP funding, reliever airports can expect 90 to 95 percent cost coverage for projects such as runway, taxiway, and apron con- struction or facility rehabilitation, lighting, signage, drainage, and land acquisition (FAA 2017a). • “Clean” technology projects funding from the VALE program. Eligible airport development projects designed to achieve environmental emissions targets have received an average of $2.8 million per grant since 2005 (FAA 2019d). UAM infrastructure that is collocated with airports that are eligible for AIP funding may be eligible for developmental project grants through that same program. This creates significant

56 Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective opportunities for both airport planners and UAM stakeholders aiming to locate Air Metro facilities at medium-sized primary hub airports or smaller reliever airports. However, to be considered for this funding, an airport must be part of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). If participating, airports can apply for grants used to expand airport capacity, improve noise abatement, or other capital improvement projects. One of the principal advantages of UAM passenger service is the potential offset of some amount of polluting emissions from displaced ground-passenger miles. Programs like the FAA’s VALE offer one avenue to incentivize airport operators and developers to pursue development projects that help states achieve cleaner air targets. One of the largest categories of funded grants is for gate electrification projects. Airport and UAM stakeholders may benefit from planning UAM facilities to meet the requirements of such grants, potentially offsetting 75 to 90 percent of the construction costs. Further, VALE explicitly encourages projects that utilize alternative fuel vehicles and may be used to reimburse incremental costs associated with their charging infrastructure. VALE defines alternative fuel vehicles to include both all-electric and hybrid-electric vehicles (FAA 2017b). Business Development Opportunities. Advances in consumer data analytics and changes to the way air carriers are owned and financed are likely to coincide with new modes of regional travel like Air Metro to give passengers more transportation options. Across the airport value chain, these shifts may lead to new opportunities for airport stakeholders, including • Establishing cooperative development agreements between UAM stakeholders and airport/ real estate operators, • Creating new business opportunities for MRO and airport services providers, and • Enhancing land-use master planning and supporting local businesses. Passengers who use Air Metro may negatively affect garage operator parking revenue or may be willing to travel farther from the airport for hotel accommodations. Such stakeholders may opt to engage with UAM developers to instead frame cooperative development agreements, sharing costs associated with the construction of mixed-use infrastructure to diminish negative impacts to return on investment. Similarly, the construction of new UAM infrastructure, including vertipads and hubs at airports, may create an opportunity to work with municipal governments. Public-private partnerships like the LaGuardia Airport expansion provide a possible model of this partnership in an airport context. Led by Skanska and other partners, the $4 billion public-private partnership will modernize and expand LaGuardia Airport’s B terminal to facilitate increased passenger capacity and airport access (LaGuardia Gateway Partners 2016). Other stakeholders, such as MRO providers and airport service providers, may see a strong benefit from UAM passenger operations based at airports. MRO providers, for instance, may be able to work with UAM fleet operators to contract out servicing of eVTOL vehicles. Taking advantage of this opportunity may require some investment in specialized training of personnel to service UAM aircraft. UAM adoption may also provide an opportunity to re-negotiate airport contracts with providers of janitorial, retail, and concession services to control rising costs of service, even as higher passenger throughput fuels revenue growth. In addition, passenger UAM service may create opportunities to improve local communities. First, UAM stakeholders can work with local and federal government agencies to properly zone land use around UAM infrastructure. Land-use master planning can benefit from the consid- eration of UAM by properly zoning land for commercial use to mitigate residents’ exposure to noise. Efforts started in the 1970s to curb the effects of aviation-related noise have led to a more than tenfold decline in the number of Americans “exposed to significant aviation noise” (FAA 2018a). Second, UAM fleet operators may need to support local businesses through

Impact Assessment and Opportunities for Urban Air Mobility 57 increased urban foot traffic anchored in improved mobility. It may then benefit urban businesses and UAM stakeholders to identify revenue-sharing agreements, such as using UAM trips to guide passengers to local businesses through ads or exclusive offers. Use Case: Air Cargo Financing. Drone-based Air Cargo operations are likely to require fewer improvements to airport operations than other UAM use cases collocated with airports. However, AIP funding may serve as a source of funds to aid in accommodating mature-scale drone operations at airports and may be used in the following ways: • Improving signage and lighting used to manage drone operations at the airport • Installing or improving various noise abatement systems and modernizing airport noise mitigation procedures Unlike Air Metro or Air Medevac, Air Cargo creates relatively little demand on existing airside structures. Pavement surfaces for aircraft are unaffected, existing traffic management systems are unlikely to be utilized, and ground crews will likely have little role in drone operations. However, new considerations for Air Cargo operations will likely result in updates to signage and lighting used to help guide all operations throughout the airport. Airport planners can work with UAM stakeholders to seek AIP funds to update these systems. In addition, Air Cargo stakeholders and airport planners may opt to plan for noise abatement from the outset. Large drone fleets coming to and from the airport constantly throughout the day are likely to create significant additional ambient noise. Systems and procedures to help mitigate this noise and create minimal disturbance to local communities can take advantage of AIP funding specifically for this purpose. Business Development Opportunities. The Air Cargo delivery scenario is an appealing potential business case for both retail consumers and large-scale delivery companies. For the former, the speed and convenience may entice customers to pay markups in the range of $1 to $5 per delivery. Amazon Prime Air is targeting an approximate $1 per delivery fee (Smith 2015). For package delivery companies, drone delivery creates an opportunity to minimize inefficiencies in traditional ground-delivery routes. For airports and their stakeholders, there are additional business opportunities, particularly at mature stages, including the following: • Identifying new aeronautical revenue sources in fees for drone deliveries from airports • Establishing facility/space rental agreements for Air Cargo operators • Fostering relationships with local businesses to expand their customer reach The weight of individual drone deliveries is likely to be fairly low; many project approxi- mately 5 pounds (e.g., Amazon expects its drones to deliver 5 lb. payloads up to 15 miles away in 30 minutes or less) (Vincent and Gartenberg 2019). However, Air Cargo operations will likely seek to make up for low aggregate freight tonnage with volume. Therefore, airports may seek to identify a fee structure for deliveries from airport-based operators that create a significant source of aeronautical revenue. Additionally, to aid in cost management, airport master planners and facilities operators could potentially benefit from working with Air Cargo fleet operators to determine appropriate rental agreements for airport space. Air Cargo also creates significant opportunities for local business development and growth, particularly as operations mature. In the short term, most anticipate that Air Cargo deliveries will largely focus on internet-ordered retail spending. However, at more mature stages, Air Cargo may enable local businesses to reach more customers in their immediate communities through added services and convenience. Local business leaders and development councils may

58 Urban Air Mobility: An Airport Perspective seek to work with Air Cargo operators to promote their products and get them to new customers. Ventures most likely to benefit from such agreements include local restaurants and small-scale consumer goods manufacturers. Use Case: Air Medevac Financing. Improving access to emergency medical care can be critical to rural commu- nities and might thereby serve significant public interests. General aviation airport planners and municipal policymakers may be able to improve healthcare access in their communities by working with Air Medevac stakeholders to finance the construction of dedicated bases, taking advantage of federal grant funding in the process, principally through AIP grants for general aviation airports, paired with modest local matching funds. Today, many air ambulance operations are based out of general aviation airports that do not offer regular commercial service. Though such airports generally receive fewer AIP funds than other airports in the NPIAS, capital improvement projects related to medical flight operations are considered eligible. As a result, planners of such airports, along with UAM Air Medevac stakeholders, may elect to form development partnerships to seek funding for Medevac bases. These grants can be used to cover some or all of the costs of new pads, signage, and improve- ments to overall aircraft operations. One way to increase the likelihood of achieving such grants is to work with municipal lawmakers to obtain matching funds, possibly funded through debt financing. The Congressional Research Service has stated that one of the priorities of AIP grants should be to improve small state and community airports (Congressional Research Service 2019). Business Development Opportunities. The increasing sophistication of emergency health- care paired with shrinking access to local hospitals in the United States creates an environment conducive to growth in the air ambulance market. In particular, Air Medevac represents a poten- tially viable way into this growing industry as electricity costs for UAM vehicles create likely operational savings over variable legacy fuel costs. Airport operators and stakeholders can take advantage of the growth in this industry in several ways, such as the following: • Establishing relationships with smaller or less-trafficked airports (e.g., reliever or regional airports) to establish Air Medevac bases • Forming risk-sharing partnerships with local governments to develop infrastructure Unlike UAM passenger businesses, individual Air Medevac operations do not require large fleet sizes housed at each base. In fact, according to the Atlas and Database of Air Medical Services, the average United States rotorcraft air ambulance base only operates one to two helicopters. Alaska leads the United States, with an average 3.3 helicopters per air ambulance base, with the District of Columbia in second place, with two (Association of Air Medical Services 2017). As a result, a significant business development opportunity for the Air Medevac industry will likely be for smaller, regional airports to strike deals with UAM-inspired air ambulance operations for use of facilities and pad space. Alternatively, new construction of infrastructure to support Air Medevac operations may benefit from risk-sharing agreements with municipal leaders and public partners. As Air Medevac offers a potentially valuable public utility by providing enhanced access to emergency medical care for citizens, there may be a strong incentive to foster relationships such as public-private partnerships with local governments to attract these operations to underserved areas. In addition, as with Air Metro services, MRO providers may see some benefit in working with operators to identify risk-appropriate arrangements to service eVTOL fleets.

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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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