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Recap: International Collaboration in Advanced Air Mobility

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

On February 6, 2024, the U.S. DOT Volpe Center and Federal Aviation Administration held the sixth discussion of a seven-part thought leadership series titled International Collaboration in Advanced Air Mobility.

“Close collaboration with our international partners is critical to successfully and safely integrate these new technologies,” said U.S. DOT Volpe Center Director Anne Aylward during her opening remarks.

Aylward, host and moderator of the series, also acknowledged the engagement of international colleagues throughout the series noting that representatives from across five continents have linked in to learn more about this emerging aviation issue.

Annie Petsonk, Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs at U.S. DOT, Lirio Liu, Executive Director for Aircraft Certification Service with FAA, and Chris Carter, Director of the Asia-Pacific Region with FAA joined Aylward for the program.

 

Global Leadership and Collaboration in AAM

As Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, Annie Petsonk is responsible for advancing AAM by coordinating across government to develop a national strategy that will fully integrate AAM into the current air transportation system. International collaboration and leadership will play a fundamental role in helping the U.S. capitalize on this important opportunity.

U.S. DOT spearheads efforts in this area and collaborates with foreign partners to expand AAM technology globally. Petsonk spoke about U.S. DOT’s ongoing work to improve and expand aviation connectivity in this innovative space.

“Our efforts at the Department of Transportation will be to realize a vision of Advanced Air Mobility that fully accounts for AAM’s integration into other aircraft operations, into existing buildings and infrastructure, including the energy infrastructure and the interaction with other modes of transportation,” remarked Petsonk.

“Preparing for and designing this kind of policy around this fully integrated long-term vision is what will allow the United States to lead in markets for AAM that are developing all over the world. Part of our vision is that the United States will remain the world’s leader in Advanced Air Mobility, just as we have been in aviation for the past century,” Petsonk concluded.

 

AAM Growth in the Asia-Pacific Region

Chris Carter is Director of the FAA Asia-Pacific Region based in Singapore where he provides leadership and promotes U.S. interests to advance civil aviation safety and efficiency.

The Asia-Pacific Region consists of 39 states accredited to the International Civil Aviation Organization—Asia and Pacific (ICAO APAC) Office in Bangkok, Thailand. Each of the 39 states is very different with diverse demographics and cultures, and their aviation systems vary in maturity and scope. As a result, there are many unserved or underserved parts of the population due to a lack of critical infrastructure and other socioeconomic factors.

Based on current research, the Asia-Pacific Region is expected to see rapid growth in aviation services and increased passengers in the coming years. To meet future demand, international aviation manufacturers have begun scaling-up production of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to transport passengers and goods in underserved areas.

Carter spoke about this growing trend and the impact it will have on the 39 APAC states. “As you can see, the APAC region is the fastest growing region over the next 20 years,” remarked Carter. “You can see the impact of some of this growth as you read about the mega orders that have been placed with Boeing and Airbus recently, especially in India. As you can imagine, as these states spool up for passenger traffic, they also need to figure out how to service the underserved and unserved communities within their states,” noted Carter.

Carter referenced a study conducted by Rolls-Royce in 2022 on the anticipated growth in AAM and the potential impact on the Asia-Pacific Region. “The study concludes that from the global AAM market, the APAC region could account for more than half of all operated eVTOL aircraft and over 40 percent of global revenue by 2050,” said Carter. “Translating that percentage into raw numbers, they estimate that 82,500 aircraft could be in operation in the APAC by 2050, with one thousand of those by 2030,” he concluded. Civil aviation is expanding faster in the Asia-Pacific Region than anywhere in the world.

 

Maintaining Aircraft Safety through Certification

Even as manufacturers develop and build new eVTOLs, FAA is responsible for ensuring safety and airworthiness of aircraft entering the U.S. civil fleet. Lirio Liu, Executive Director for Aircraft Certification Service with FAA provided a historical perspective on FAA’s role of safely introducing new aircraft technology into the national airspace system (NAS), including Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS), and others.

With the emergence of AAM, Liu spoke about the mission of her office, which underscores the safety mission of FAA and U.S. DOT. “We really are in the midst of a new golden age of aviation,” remarked Liu. “And, as we discuss these topics, I want to remember our greatest challenge will be establishing and maintaining the appropriate levels of safety for the new and novel technologies and working with our partners across the globe on this shared goal,” she concluded.

FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service  is comprised of engineers, test pilots, and other experts who oversee the design, production, airworthiness, and continued airworthiness programs for all U.S. civil aircraft and foreign imported aviation products. In this role, the Aircraft Certification Service collaborates with ICAO and national and international aviation stakeholders to maintain safety of the global air transportation system.

Liu touched on the work of her office and highlighted its importance with the emergence of AAM. “Aircraft Certification is responsible for overseeing the design, production, airworthiness certification, and continued operational safety programs for the U.S. fleet and any foreign imported products and articles,” noted Liu.

“Aviation is global by nature, and AAM companies are establishing partnerships around the world,” she continued. “Both Annie and Chris have already highlighted that the bilateral relationships that we have are instrumental for the transferability of these products and these articles, and that is really important for us to recognize,” Liu concluded.

 

View the event recording for the full discussion.

 

Up Next

The final event in the series, The Advanced Air Mobility Workforce of the Future, will take place on Thursday, February 15, 2024 at 1:00 p.m. ET. The session will feature Robin Riedel, Partner, Aerospace and Defense, Travel, Transportation and Logistics, and Sustainability at the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility, and Becky Lutte, PhD, Chair of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University College of Aviation Worldwide. Laurence Wildgoose, Assistant Administrator for Policy, International Affairs, and Environment at FAA will provide opening remarks.

*The views of the speakers may not represent the views of U.S. DOT.

 

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