Boeing and its joint venture partner Wisk have released a roadmap for transitioning to a future where automated and uncrewed aircraft can safely carry passengers and cargo in urban and suburban areas. The concept of operations lays out the technology, regulatory and social recommendations needed to deploy urban air mobility (UAM) in the US and integrate it into the national airspace system.
“We're working to enable a future of aerospace that is safe, sustainable and at scale. Uncrewed operations will be fundamental to realising that vision, and we have to exceed the current safety standards for the air transportation system,” says Boeing vice president and chief engineer of sustainability and future mobility Brian Yutko.
The concept of operations begins by proposing bedrock principles for urban air mobility, including that flights should be safe and affordable for everyone. Additionally, the aircraft would be automated to reduce the load on air traffic controllers and pilots, and they would fly day or night under visual or instrument flight rules and be supported by automated onboard and ground-based systems.
Wisk has been working to bring to market the first all-electric, self-flying air taxi in the US.
“The important work we're sharing today provides a stepping stone in the advancement of UAM in the US and the world,” says Wisk CEO Gary Gysin. “The vision we have outlined is the result of many years of collaboration with Boeing, the FAA, NASA and key industry stakeholders. As a result, this document offers the most comprehensive framework proposed to date with a vision for enabling UAM in the national airspace. Wisk is committed to deliver, with its partners, on this vision.”
Boeing and Wisk say that evolutionary and pragmatic methods will be needed to make the vision of UAM a reality. This includes the creation of new infrastructure such as vertiports, locations where UAM aircraft can take off and land, load and unload passengers, and receive services. Additionally, while the aircraft will be automated, Boeing and Wisk recommend the creation of fleet operations centres where multi-vehicle supervisors will monitor flights, implement air traffic control instructions to maintain aircraft separation and ensure safe operation of the flight.
“The work we've done with our partners at Wisk demonstrates how this shared vision can become reality, and we're excited to share this ConOps with public, government, policy and regulatory stakeholders to engage across industry to shape that future,” says Yutko.