Innovative Air Mobility Ecosystem
AirHub Consultancy, in collaboration with partner Adecs Airinfra, conducted a study for the Province of South Holland on Innovative Air Mobility (IAM). The study delved into the IAM ecosystem, highlighting the primary challenges that local authorities are expected to encounter. The report shows how these (political) challenges will affect the areas of work within the province.
The main objective was to describe how the IAM ecosystem will (likely) look in the near future, and which challenges the province will face. The province wanted to create awareness about this new form of air mobility which is not yet (fully) implemented. Therefore, the province of South Holland asked AirHub and Adecs Airinfra to analyze the IAM ecosystem.
The study has been divided into different themes. We started identifying the different use cases, varying from passenger transport, medical delivery etcetera. These applications can take place above urban, industrial and rural areas. This is also the difference between IAM and Urban Air Mobility (UAM), where UAM only focuses on operations in and around cities. This reveals a major difference compared to traditional manned aviation. VTOLs have the ability to take off and land vertically, eliminating the need for a mile-long runway. This means that this new form of mobility can be integrated into the environment.
To facilitate the integration of IAM, careful consideration must be given to connecting with existing transportation modalities to cover the entire logistics chain, including first- and last-mile delivery. Connecting multiple locations first and foremost requires ground infrastructure. Vertiports form the take-off and landing area, with the necessary facilities such as charging infrastructure or a passenger terminal. The construction of a vertiport, therefore, depends on the type of operation.
However, the ‘start and end point’ is not the only thing that is required. A network of vertiports is required to set up a route, whereby EASA states that passenger flights must always take off and/or land from vertiports and alternative landing sites must also be taken into account to ensure a ‘continued safe flight and landing’.
On the other hand, the airspace must be designed so that IAM can be integrated whilst keeping safe and efficient airspace with other (manned) air traffic. U-space is a means of organizing airspace and can be set up for economic reasons, environmental effects, privacy or security, for example. However, accommodating IAM operations will not depend solely on U-space. Forming airways (‘corridors’) whereby separation from other air traffic is guaranteed is also one of the options for designing the airspace for eVTOL traffic. For drone operations out of sight (BVLOS), areas of airspace are currently already being separated from other traffic by means of a temporary air traffic restriction (TGB). The same approach – more permanent in nature – can be applied to corridors. However – without U-space – there will be no air traffic control here, so separation will take place using technical systems such as Detect and Avoid.
The third theme within this study focussed on the environmental impact. Noise nuisance is a major concern, according to a study by EASA, as is external safety and security (e.g. cyber-attacks). The fear surrounding noise and external safety is mainly focused on the larger VTOL operations such as passenger and freight transport, while security focuses more on the smaller drone operations. These three subjects are also well-known in traditional aviation. A topic that is new and that is being discussed with the application of IAM is the fear of privacy. As in traditional aviation, it is expected that these environmental effects will also have to be assessed with the integration of IAM.
Drawing on insights gained across the three thematic areas, the study identifies pertinent political and administrative challenges and questions that the province must address to formulate and implement its own IAM strategy. Concurrently, an informative video produced by DroneWatch, on behalf of the Province, has been developed to raise awareness about the future of aviation (video link provided below).
For more information, please contact our consultant Toby Enzerink who worked on this project together with partner Adecs Airinfra
Source video: Province South Holland