Smaller, regional airports could become a catalyst for change, according to a white paper released by NASA.

The report found that road trips were the most affordable option for Americans making journeys between 50 and 500 miles – the road trip. Commercial air travel didn’t always directly serve local communities and resulted in a time-consuming and frequently frustrating travel experience.

The paper reported that America was home to more than 5,000 airports, yet just 30 of these airports serve more than 70 per cent of all travellers. The majority of airports were underutilised due to air transportation services trending towards putting more people into larger aircraft on well-travelled routes.

Local airports – catalyst for change

The report said smaller, local airports which travellers may not have known previously known existed could soon become a catalyst for change in the way people travel. Regional Air Mobility (RAM) seeks to fundamentally change travel by bringing the convenience, speed, and safety of air travel to all Americans, regardless of their proximity to a travel hub or urban center.

Kevin Antcliff, lead author and Deputy Lead for Emerging Applications and Technologies said: “NASA’s role in the development of this white paper is to articulate a consistent and complete vision for how Regional Air Mobility could provide safe, convenient, and sustainable air transportation. The only way to effectively cast this vision is to allow industry experts to provide specific input on how their research, innovative technologies, and operating models will enable RAM.”

Moving forward, NASA will support aeronautics-related technology development such as systems analysis, critical air-vehicle technologies, investigation of novel aircraft configurations suitable for RAM missions, autonomous operations and associated safety assurance methods, and airspace technology and integration approaches.

Regional air mobility: “convenient, affordable and community-friendly”

NASA will also support efforts by other federal agencies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Energy, on activities that range from assuring that RAM aircraft and operations are safe, to determining potential opportunities for renewable energy generation to effectively balance the energy demand.

Industry partners will apply and mature technology for RAM, develop a seamless, enhanced user experience, and continue the operation and integration of RAM into their business cases.

Antcliff added: ​“Due to the convergence of electric propulsion, autonomous systems, new operational models, and an already established infrastructure, RAM’s vision for air transportation will provide a convenient, affordable, and community-friendly regional travel option for both people and packages from their local airport.”

To read more on NASA’s involvement in RAM visit:

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