The Federal Aviation Administration in recent months has focused its attention on Advanced Air Mobility issues, with a special focus on how those things affect the drone world. And just this month, the U.S. Transportation Department announced 12 new appointments to the team that will be instrumental to shaping policy around AAM issues.
That team is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s Advanced Aviation Advisory Committee (AAAC), which provides advice and expertise on key issues pertaining to drones and other forms of Advanced Air Mobility that are typically autonomous, such as taxis or electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Air taxis could be a future step in building up drones that carry humans, making for potentially another way to get around congested cities with traffic on the ground or perhaps even more likely, navigating underserved and rural communities where ground infrastructure makes travel difficult. Beyond transporting humans, air taxis could also transport other types of cargo and help with emergency situations like firefighting and search and rescue.
The 12 new members of the FAA’s Advanced Air Mobility Committee — and the companies they represent — are:
- Edward Bolen, Chief Executive Officer, National Business Aviation Association
- Jeffrey Keith Antonio Brown, Aviation Chief Operating Officer, Port of Seattle
- Kevin Cox, Chief Executive Officer, Ferrovial Vertiports
- Karthik Duraisamy, Professor of Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan & Founder and Chief Scientist, Geminus.AI
- Amit Ganjoo, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, ANRA Technologies
- James Grimsley, Executive Director, Advanced Technology Initiatives-Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
- Andrew LeBovidge, Executive Vice President, National Air Traffic Controllers Associations (NATCA)
- Houston Mills, Vice President, Flight Operations and Safety, United Parcel Service (UPS) / AAAC Chair
- Okeoma Moronu, Head of Aviation Regulatory and Legal Affairs, Zipline
- Melissa Tomkiel, President and General Counsel, Blade Air Mobility
- James Viola, Chief Executive Officer, Helicopter Association International
- Yolanka Wulff, Executive Director, Community Air Mobility Initiative
You can see the Advanced Air Mobility committee list as of October 7, which is before the new names were announced, here.
Many of the new members fill in formerly vacant positions. Standouts include Zipline’s Okeoma Moronu, who fills in a vacant position for the Community Advocate stakeholder group, and James Grimsley of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s Advanced Technology Initiatives. Choctaw Nation has been testing multiple projects with the FAA including drone delivery, though Grimsley’s position with the AAAC represents agricultural interests.
Most of the names listed above comprise executives or other key decision makers across a variety of drone and Advanced Air Mobility fields, including industry, research, academia, retail, technology and state and local government.
The October FAA AAAC meeting
The new members joined in on October’s AAAC meeting held in October in Arlington, Virginia, which was also livestreamed and can be rewatched through the FAA’s YouTube channel.
Among the key topics were a Remote Identification Update. The committee stated that the FAA notice of enforcement discretion for production compliance is set to end on Dec. 16, 2022 (after its three-month
extension). Additionally, it clarified that September 16, 2023 is the next operational compliance date.
In other news, final recommendations were delivered for what’s referred to as ‘Strategic Framework for Advanced Air Mobility Near-Term Operations.’ About two dozen people who comprise what’s called a TG13 Aircraft Subgroup met three times to devise comments, suggestions, and
recommendations around AAIM.
Among their recommendations:
- Training and certification of AAM pilots should be proportional to operational risk.
- The FAA should continue its cooperative work with the FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration to provide protected spectrum for drones, including AAM.
- Near-term integration into the NAS proceeds with safety, efficiency, and equity as underpinnings required for success in order to ensure the public trust.
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