President Trump recently released his proposal for the 2020 federal budget, and it bodes well for the future of the urban air mobility industry.
The 2020 federal budget proposal included funding and resources to aid in the development of both unmanned air systems (UAS) and urban air mobility (UAM). These allocations are intended to support initiatives such as UAS Traffic Management system development, research on UAS safety, and demonstrations of UAM technology. To help achieve this and make UAM a reality, funds have specifically been directed to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The U.S. DOT budget, for example, includes provisions for innovation efforts such as the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP). The program was initially established with ten local governments and private partners to “gather data for safely advancing beyond-line-of-sight operations over people and package deliveries in selected jurisdictions and to determine future “rules of the road” for time, place and manner of drone operations,” as summarized in a writeup by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.
Further, the U.S. DOT was allocated funds to expand and maintain an automated system known as “LAANC,” the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, which has already processed 35,000 airspace authorizations for small UAS operators nationwide. Additional funds will cover the Unmanned Air Traffic Management System, the Remote Identification of UAS, and the development of safety standards. $63.1 million was requested in President Trump’s budget for the safe integration of UAS into U.S. airspace, an effort that would span multiple agencies, including the FAA.
Additional funding for the DOT, FAA, and NASA was proposed to support the development of new, and modification of existing, regulatory standards ($7.5 million); to develop and integrate an Unmanned Traffic Management system ($130.8 million); and to assist the Airspace Operations and Safety Program (AOSP) in validating new capabilities that improve airport operating efficiency ($121.2 million). This also includes the start of a new Advanced Air Mobility project which will enable the emergence of UAM through a series of demonstrations to assess the maturity of key technologies.
Why its important: As with all technological advancements, urban air mobility must have the proper funding and federal support if we would like to see widespread adoption and implementation across the United States and the world. The proposal by President Trump, if approved, has the potential to energize the UAM industry in the U.S. and fuel its rapid expansion and acceptance.
Original story written by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.