The standards development organization ASTM International recently published a new standard that provides guidance to states and municipalities for the design and development of vertiports. The unmanned aircraft systems committee at ASTM, the F38 Committee, has worked on this standard—F3423—for the past five years to support advanced air mobility (AAM) infrastructure development.
This comes a few months after the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published the first-ever vertiport design specifications, titled “Prototype Technical Design Specifications for Vertiports.” The document provided technical guidance for development of ground infrastructure that enables urban air mobility operations in Europe.
The announcement from ASTM explains that a vertiport can be constructed on land or water and can be used by both crewed and uncrewed aircraft that perform vertical take-offs and landings. Vertiports support a range of operations, from transporting passengers and cargo to performing medical services, maintenance, battery exchange, fueling, and flight instruction.
The F3423 standard also includes specifications for the design of vertistops, which are built for discharging passengers and cargo only—no fueling or scheduled maintenance can take place at a vertistop.
“Everyone involved in the development and implementation of AAM transportation, and its supporting infrastructure, will find this standard extremely helpful,” commented ASTM International Fellow Jonathan Daniels in response to the announcement.
While the new standard was created to support the design of civil vertiports and vertistops, it could also be used for other facilities as a best practice document. However, it does not cover vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft with floats that conduct water landings or take-offs. The ASTM standard also does not include specifications for infrastructure to support VTOL aircraft that weigh less than 55 pounds.
The F38 Committee took into account multiple types of eVTOL aircraft, such as multi-rotor, lift & cruise, vectored thrust, tilt wing, and tilt rotor as the committee considered appropriate guidelines for AAM infrastructure requirements.
According to ASTM International’s announcement, the F3423 standard provides “the foundation for additional working groups supporting automated vertiports and connections through the vertiport supplementary data service provider (SDSP) work item.”
An ASTM International working group volunteer and member, Rex Alexander, remarked that developing this new standard required a balance between safety and practicality. “Without empirical aircraft performance data to rely on, the team’s goal was to develop a practical standard as a starting point that is not only safety centric but provides municipalities with a common-sense path forward,” he stated.
The F38 Committee meets twice a year to address issues related to unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, such as airworthiness and operator qualifications. We recently featured an interview with Phil Kenul, Chair of the F38 Committee, at Avionics International. Kenul noted that certain rules from the Federal Aviation Administration will go into effect on September 16, 2022, outlining requirements for UAS to maintain compliance with Remote ID. As of about a month ago, he noted, ASTM completed the means of compliance that the FAA is expected to adopt for Remote ID.
Other recent news related to AAM infrastructure comes from an Australian startup, Skyportz, which aims to develop networks of vertiports for air taxis. This week, the company announced that it has secured an option to build what would be the first vertiport site in Australia. The design of the vertiport was released by Skyportz during the Australian Association for Uncrewed Systems (AAUS) AAM Summit this week.
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