World firsts, the latest in aircraft innovations and developments in the regulatory landscape were all on the agenda as the AAM sector gathered together for the first time in more than two years at the Global Urban and Advanced Air Summit (GUAAS).
The Summit, which took place at Farnborough, marked a return to face-to-face networking and insight sharing with the goal of shaping the future of air travel. GUAAS opened with an early wake up call for pilot and engineer Star Ginn, NASA’s National Campaign Lead for Advanced Air Mobility, who delivered the opening address live from the US at 3am via video link.
On day one, Alauda Aeronautics and Airspeeder, the world’s first eVTOL racing series, announced a global first – the first hyper factory to manufacture racing eVTOLs. In a FINN exclusive, Airspeeder revealed that construction of the facility was being made possible thanks to A$20million funding from the Central Australian Government.
GUAAS 2022: “A real alignment in people’s thinking”
A panel discussion and live Q&A considered The What, Where and When of AAM and UK Research and Innovation got out their compasses to reveal which way the UK was heading on its roadmap to future flight.
Gary Cutts, Future Flight Challenge Director for the UKRI said: “For us, we’re really supportive of events that convenes the global community with the key players from all across that entire aviation space in order that they can work together to co create the future.”
“The industry has moved on so far, lots of technological developments are coming to the fore. But what there is now, there’s a real alignment of people’s thinking. So the understanding of the social importance of what we’re trying to do and the understanding of this as a complex ecosystem. So I think the industry is now really trying to align itself and make real fast progress.”
Manufacturers including Vertical Aerospace and Eve Air Mobility unveiled the progress they had made on the design and development of their aircraft while the world was in lockdown. They were joined with the latest in propulsion technology from GKN and supply chain partners such as SKF and Toray Composites.
Lilium – greater collaboration as the sector matures
David Rottblatt, Vice President Business Development for Eve Air Mobility said AAM would assist governments in reaching their goals to provide transportation without carbon-emissions
“Over time, I think that as as urban mobility grows in popularity, as well as advancements in battery technology, together with European governments, we’ll be able to collectively realise that goal of getting to carbon neutral as soon as possible.”
Sebastian Borel, Vice President Business for Lilium, said the future of advanced air mobility would start with the regional sector but predicted there would be greater collaboration between airframers in the future. He said: “In the eVTOL market we are competing in, a lot of money was poured into those companies like Lilium and the competition also received a lot of capital to to grow their product and their market.”
“Essentially, at the end, we’re gonna have to work together, I deeply believe that working together would actually help us out in regards to the CAPEX infrastructure and these kind of events give us the opportunity to do this.”
Public perception will be key to growth
Day two saw the focus turn to the establishment of regulatory frameworks for the emerging industry. The Regulator’s Perspective was the subject of a panel discussion and live Q&A with Jay Merkle of the UAS Integration Office for the US FAA and Tim Johnson Policy Director of the CAA. The morning sessions put the spotlight on safety and other elements such as noise and nuisance which would hold the key to public acceptance of the emerging sector.
While the industry was able to convene at GUAAS to discuss the challenges together Steve Vance, Director of UK Aerospace at CGI warned that it was also important for the benefits of AAM to be discussed with the public.
He warned: “If we get this wrong, the public perception of this technology is going to sour, and we’re going to be over before we’ve started. And then Once that issue happens, we’re going to have such an uphill battle to return the damage that has been caused.
Max Fenkell, Policy and Government Affairs Lead for Joby Aviation also gave his update on how the electric rideshare aircraft would be designed to work with current transportation systems. He added that eVTOL journeys would eventually become cost comparable to land-based transport systems.