The FAA has issued an implementation plan for integrating air taxis and advanced air mobility (AAM) into the National Airspace (NAS) by 2028.
The implementation plan is directed towards the “Innovate28” AAM project, in reference to the agency’s goal of allowing AAM operations at limited locations by 2028. The plan “includes various components and the sequence they will occur in for operations to be at scale at one or more sites by 2028,” says the FAA announcement.
“This plan shows how all the pieces will come together allowing the industry to scale with safety as the north star,” said Deputy FAA Administrator Katie Thomson.
The plan will serve as a foundation for making entry into service routine and predictable by maximizing the use of existing procedures and infrastructure. It addresses how the agency and partners will certify aircraft and pilots, manage airspace access, ensure pilot training, develop infrastructure, maintain security, and engage communities.
The plan also includes a planning guide that can be applied to any site, laying out key integration objectives and sequences.
The Innovate28 (I28) project continues the FAA and Department of Transportation (DOT) focus on AAM. The U.S. DOT formed the Advanced Air Mobility Interagency Working Group in 2022. The FAA released the airspace blueprint for air taxis in May of 2023, and proposed a comprehensive rule for training and certifying AAM pilots in June of 2023. Shortly after announcing the publication of the blueprint for AAM at the AUVSI Xponential show in spring of 2023, former FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen announced that he would leave the agency: Nolen now works for AAM manufacturers Archer Aviation.
The report emphasizes that AAM operations will happen in a “crawl, walk, run” approach: beginning with entry into service (EIS) and culminating in AAM operations at scale. Innovate 28 will be one step between EIS and operations at scale.
Innovate28 is a project that will bring public and private stakeholders together to move beyond EIS and deliver regular AAM operations at specific key locations. The project will result in significant data to inform future rulemaking and documented, repeatable processes for certification, operations, infrastructure, and more.
What’s Will I28 Operations Look Like?
Initially, the plan for I28 says that pilots will fly crewed AAM along predetermined flight schedules from existing heliports and airports, modified as appropriate (with charging for electric vehicles, for example.) AAM will be supported by Air Traffic Control. AAM may operate up to 4,000 feet in urban areas “using existing or modified low altitude visual flight rules (VFR) routes where possible within controlled Class B and C airspace around major airports,” says the FAA. (Much more detail can be found in the report.)
The report also states that stakeholders will need to consider many issues related to AAM operations, requiring communication and cooperation between government agencies. Among the working issues are potential required upgrades to the electrical power grid; border and homeland security; noise considerations; and the environmental impacts of AAM.
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.
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