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Understanding Risk in Urban Air Mobility: Moving Towards Safe Operating Standards  (2020)
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Urban Air Mobility (UAM), i.e. on-demand urban passenger (and cargo) transportation services, represents a new technology and potentially an emerging industry. It is not simply an extension of commercial aviation as we know it - it is a different domain. A first priority for UAM is that it be safe and secure (Booz, Allen, Hamilton, 2018; Crown, Consulting, Inc., 2018). A workshop held in Arlington, Virginia, brought together experts from the on-demand world (including UAM) to assess and prioritize the challenges and barriers to be addressed in successfully introducing On Demand Mobility (ODM) vehicles and services (ODM and Emerging Technology Workshop, 2016). Of the nine challenges assessed, the highest priority was assigned to certification, followed by affordability, and then safety. Considering the confluence of certification and safety, it is clear that risk and its assessment were judged to be of high relevance to workshop participants.

For the UAM domain there is a range of questions concerning the projected safety of vehicles and their intended operational environment. We assume here that, at least for the near future, these vehicles will be piloted, but it is likely that one day they will be unmanned. Many questions involving UAMs cannot be answered at this point (see UBER Elevate, 2016, 2017), however, developers are eager to get started and - lacking specific guidance - a number of going-in assumptions are being made. For instance, developers are working to meet the operational requirements under Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 135. These requirements cover commuter and on demand operations and rules governing persons on board such aircraft. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International also provides some aid in anticipating requirements from an international perspective (SAE International, 2010). While these documents
are insufficient for the yet-to-be-developed electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing (e-VTOL) vehicles, they do provide help in thinking about the safety needs, risk levels, and eventual
certification requirements needed for UAM missions. The purpose of this report is to help advance the discussion by considering how various factors could contribute to the establishment of guidelines and standards for UAM systems.
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Air, Mobility, Moving, Operating, Risk, Safe, Standards, Towards, UAM, Understanding, Urban
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Jessica Nowinski
Last Updated: August 15, 2019