U.S.A., Japan Gearing Up for Urban Air Mobility
Angelenos have long had a love affair with their cars (take a gander at the 405 Freeway or Highway 101 any time, day or night). Imagine how they’re gonna feel about flying cars. That’s exactly what Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti did on 23 December 2020, when he announced the Urban Air Mobility Partnership between the Mayor’s Office, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), and Urban Movement Labs (UML).
The initiative is designed to inform residents about the impending integration of eVTOLs into L.A.’s airspace by 2023. In a statement, Mayor Garcetti said, “Los Angeles is where we turn today’s ideas into tomorrow’s reality — a place where a barrier-breaking concept like urban air mobility can truly get off the ground.”
Stakeholders will visualize what L.A.’s vertiports will look like and how they will function. Hyundai Motor Group’s Urban Air Mobility Group and Estalano Advisor will hire someone to be an Urban Air Mobility Fellow responsible for advancing public engagement strategies around UAM.
With financial support from the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group, this one-year partnership will also see UML work hand-in-hand with Estolano Advisors to hire an Urban Air Mobility Fellow who will be charged with advancing a comprehensive public engagement strategy around urban air mobility. This follows the World Economic Forum’s recent release “Principles of the Urban Sky,” a global blueprint for integrating UAM around the globe.
Japan Air Lines Taxiing Toward UAM Innovation
Air transportation is among the business sectors hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped Japan Air Lines (JAL) from developing its urban air mobility (UAM) initiatives. If anything, it’s made the Japanese carrier more determined to make eVTOLs a part of its fleet and, equally important, a part of its future revenue streams.
JAL executed an agreement with the City of Yabu, Japan to launch unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) test flights to transport medical supplies to rural areas. In February, 2020, the airline tested delivering fresh fish using UAVs. UAVs are well-suited for contactless delivery and make human social distancing needs moot.
Working with German eVTOL developer Volocopter, JAL has explored a future with, and without, passengers (e.g., for cargo) in its vehicles.
Masato Kunezaki, a senior director of business creation strategy at JAL, said “Our goal is to be the leading representative in the ‘future air mobility revolution.’”
Springfield, Ohio (US) Joins with US Air Force to Jumpstart UAM
A virtual groundbreaking took place at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal airport for a new modular building and charging station on 10 December 2020.
USAF Brigadier General Heather Pringle expressed the Air Force’s enthusiasm for UAM, saying “We’re fascinated by the prospect of flying cars.” Pringle is commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, which is based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Greene County, Ohio, near the Springfield-Dayton area.
The building will be used by UAM pioneers, BETA Technologies and Joby Aviation. A simulator to be placed at the Springfield facility will give pilots an opportunity to experience what it will be like to fly eVTOLs before taking the helm with actual aircraft.
The virtual groundbreaking was part of a weeklong series of events conducted by AFWERX, an Air Force program dedicated to bringing innovative and high-tech ideas to fruition.
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