Drones & Air Mobility Landscape

Understanding Drones and Innovative Air Mobility

A new age of aviation is approaching. Driven by unprecedented levels of technological innovation and the societal expectations for sustainable mobility and transport, new aviation technologies and business models are rapidly developing. In various parts of Europe and worldwide electric and hydrogen aircraft are being developed as well as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“Drones”, “IAS”) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) initiatives. It is expected that these developments will transform the way aviation benefits European citizens in cities, regions and rural areas.

EASA, as the EU aviation authority is setting the safety and environmental standards and certifies these new aircraft and drones. EASA is working with the national aviation authorities, manufacturers and operators to ensure that the new aviation systems benefit European citizens while being safe and sustainable.

The Innovative Air Mobility (IAM) Hub provides an overview of these developments that we collectively describe as Drones and Innovative Air Mobility. We provide insights in the policies, technologies and activities across Europe and beyond.

IAM denotes unconventional aircraft designs that derive from traditional airplane or helicopter categories. These aircraft possess vertical take-off and landing capabilities, have specific (distributed) propulsion features and may potentially operate autonomously in unmanned configurations in the future. With the emergence of these aircraft, the IAM Hub aims to connect everyone involved in shaping Europe's new air mobility, including cities, regions, national authorities, operators and manufacturers.

Funded by the European Commission and European Parliament, the IAM Hub project is one of the outcomes of the EU's Drone Strategy 2.0. This strategy is crucial for integrating civil drones sustainably. Aligned with European priorities, it focuses on safety, security and competitiveness while addressing regulatory updates for the evolving drone sector. Aimed at ensuring the safe and efficient growth of the drone ecosystem, it prioritises societal concerns, environmental impact as well as mobility and service development.

The different sections of this page explain why drones and VTOL-capable aircraft offer a range of benefits to Europeans, from capturing aerial photos to aiding deliveries, disaster management, search and rescue missions, mapping, inspections, crop monitoring and cargo transportation. As technology advances, these innovative aircraft are expected to have even more practical applications.

Basics are also explained. What are the different types of aircrafts being discussed? From the use of VTOL capable aircraft used for urban and regional passenger services as well as for their importance being used in aerial medical support (VEMS).

Cities  play a crucial role in defining Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and reaching out to citizens, aiming for sustainable mobility aligned with the European Green Deal. UAM involves mobility planning and urban development, requiring city planners to integrate it into urban mobility planning and shape services based on citizen needs through public involvement. Its introduction demands strategic, long-term decisions encompassing innovation and urban planning for a responsible and sustainable ecosystem.

And finally, sustainability and noise concerns are addressed, specifically related to noise and sustainability. Drones and urban air vehicles vary in noise levels based on factors like aircraft type and propulsion. Electric aircraft are quieter, and efforts to develop noise reduction technology and regulations are ongoing. Balancing mobility benefits with noise reduction is crucial for public acceptance and EASA has established noise measurement standards for these vehicles.

Close collaboration between all the above actors in the new aviation eco-system is essential to ensure a safe and sustainable future of innovative air mobility and services.

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