The FAA has released V2.0 of its Concept of Operations for the aerial mobility sector following on the documents initial release in 2020 with feedback incorporated from various stakeholders in the space.

According to the release, “The UAM ConOps Version 2.0 is an iterative progression of work in the development of the concept that will be continued to mature through ongoing government and industry stakeholder collaboration. Future editions of the UAM ConOps will provide a broader and more comprehensive vision of our shared partnership for UAM operations based on feedback and continued collaboration surrounding this iteration of the UAM ConOps.”

The FAA envisions a cooperative operating environemnt known as Extensible Traffic Management (xTM), which complements the traditional provision of Air Traffic Services (ATS) for future passenger or cargo-carrying operations.

Aerial mobility will co-exist with the existing air traffic control and traffic management framework operating today by the FAA. Source: FAA

The envisioned evolution for UAM operations includes an initial, low-tempo set of operations that leverage the current regulatory framework and rules (e.g., Visual Flight Rules [VFR], Instrument Flight Rules [IFR]) as a platform for increasing operational tempo, greater aircraft performance, and higher levels of autonomy. These are made possible by increased information sharing with operations across a range of environments, including major metropolitan areas and the surrounding suburbs.

The ConOps defines the future rollout of aerial mobility operations would be malleable to the growth of eVTOL traffic. Initially, operations would be conducted using new aircraft types that have been certified to fly within the current regulatory and operational environment. As the industry grows, the FAA would begin to define and develop UAM corridors and cooperative areas where autonomous flight can occur.

Example depiction of UAM corridors with eVTOL traffic separated from general and commercial aviation traffic. Source: FAA

Why it matters: It is important to note this ConOps document is not a policy statement or a forecast of potential regulations surrounding the aerial mobility space. Rather this document outlines ways in which aerial mobility can integrate into the existing National Airspace System (NAS) and Air Traffic Services (ATS). Expect future versions to offer greater and more detailed descriptions for the integration of aerial mobility into the existing aviation industry.

Posted by Ross Piscoran