Cities will play a significant role in managing the complexities of Urban Air Mobility (UAM), focusing on creating sustainable and affordable mobility solutions aligned with the European Green Deal goals. UAM goes beyond aviation technology, involving mobility planning and urban development. City planners will play a crucial role in emphasising the importance of integrating UAM into urban mobility planning, and cities will define UAM services based on citizen needs by encouraging public involvement and acceptance. The introduction of UAM requires a strategic, long-term decision considering various high-level fields such as innovation strategy and urban planning to ensure a responsible and sustainable UAM ecosystem.
The role of cities in Innovative Air Mobility and Services is currently evolving and may include:
- Define the characteristics of UAM services: Cities and regions are best placed to determine the needs and preferences of their citizens and stakeholders, and to shape the UAM services accordingly. They can also set the standards and criteria for UAM operations, such as safety, noise, emissions, and accessibility.
- Integrate UAM into sustainable urban mobility planning: Cities and regions should consider UAM as a complementary mode of transport that can contribute to smart and sustainable mobility goals. They should follow the SUMP principles and cycle to plan, implement, and evaluate UAM initiatives in a holistic and participatory way. See the SUMP Practitioner Briefing on Urban Air Mobility.
- Collaborate with UAM stakeholders and communities: Cities and regions should engage with various actors involved in UAM, such as industry, regulators, researchers, and civil society. They should also foster public involvement and acceptance of UAM, as well as social and environmental responsibility.
- Innovate and experiment with UAM solutions: Cities and regions should explore the potential and challenges of UAM, and learn from the experiences of pioneering cities and regions that have been involved in UAM projects. They should also leverage the opportunities offered by UAM for urban innovation and development.
For further reading, please also consult the ELTIS urban mobility observatory.
How can EASA help with UAM in your city?
As EASA delved into the revision of existing regulations and the formulation of new ones to accommodate routine UAM operations, it became apparent that comprehending and addressing societal concerns and citizens' expectations were paramount. It was imperative for the regulator to establish the right regulatory objectives and actions. To achieve this, EASA conducted an extensive study on the societal acceptance of UAM operations within the European Union.
This comprehensive study, from November 2020 to April 2021, yielded ten vital insights:
- Across the European Union, there was an initial positive disposition towards UAM.
- A resounding endorsement for use cases that offer public value, such as emergency and medical applications.
- The top three anticipated benefits were speed, environmental friendliness, and enhanced connectivity.
- The foremost concerns revolved around safety, environmental impact and noise levels.
- Safety benchmarks were rooted in existing aviation standards.
- Environmental protection, especially wildlife conservation, emerged as a priority.
- Noise levels were considered acceptable at the level of familiar city sounds.
- Building confidence and trust among citizens was an imperative task.
- Seamless integration of ground infrastructure was deemed essential.
- Collaboration among regulatory authorities at all levels was underscored as a fundamental requirement.
EASA's commitment to understanding and addressing these considerations underlines its dedication to fostering safe, sustainable, and widely accepted urban aviation solutions for the future.