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Project Information

Project Information

Urban Air Mobility Research and Technology

Project Scope:

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will convene an ad hoc committee to assess the feasibility of a safe and efficient urban air mobility (UAM) system. In terms of general definition and concept of operations, the committee will consider UAM to be a system for air passenger and cargo transportation within a metropolitan area (including operations over densely populated urban areas), with vehicles ranging from small drones to passenger aircraft with electrically powered vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) capabilities. For both manned and unmanned aircraft, the study will focus on a system vision (including interface/integration into broader air transportation systems, ground transportation systems, and smart city systems generally), barriers, entrepreneurial approaches, and research projects that are particular to operation in uncontrolled airspace over metropolitan areas. In particular the committee will:
1. Consider
     o  Essential characteristics of a UAM system 
     o  Key barriers to developing and deploying a UAM system that demonstrates the essential characteristics
     o  Risk-based approaches to addressing key barriers, so that evolutionary market development can occur, from market emergence with limited operations, through growth and expansion as safety cases and community acceptance allows, and finally to mature operations in urban areas.  
     o  Progress in related areas, such as the development and implementation of standards and operational capabilities to enable unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations, the UAS Traffic Management system, cybersecurity, and urban planning.
     o  Highly entrepreneurial approaches, including non-aviation industry entrants, that are relevant to UAM market development.
2. Prepare a report that will:
     o  Develop and discuss a recommended national vision for UAM.
     o  Identify and prioritize by group the key technical, economic, regulatory, and policy barriers to achieve the vision.
     o  Assess the potential impact of highly entrepreneurial approaches, including those that could be implemented by non-aviation industry entrants, in achieving the vision.
     o  Recommend key research projects that NASA, other government agencies, industry, and academia could employ to overcome the barriers and facilitate likely approaches to achieving the vision.  
     o  Assess the potential and benefit for a public-private partnership in addressing the technical, economic, regulatory, policy, and other related (e.g., urban planning) requirements.

Status: Current


Project Duration (months): 18 month(s)

RSO: Day, Dwayne


Engineering and Technology
Space and Aeronautics
Transportation and Infrastructure

Geographic Focus:

Committee Membership

Committee Post Date: 05/01/2019

Nicholas D. Lappos - (Chair)
NICHOLAS D. LAPPOS is a senior technical fellow for Advance Technology at Sikorsky. He is also chairman of the board of the Vertical Lift Consortium, an industry consortium established to work collaboratively with the U.S. Government to develop and transition innovative vertical lift technologies to rapidly and affordably meet warfighter needs. He was elected to the Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni of Georgia Tech in 2004 and awarded the Sir Barnes Wallis Medal by the U.K. Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators in 2013. He is an honorary fellow and technical fellow of the American Helicopter Society (2013) and received the Frederick Feinberg Award as most outstanding pilot and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots Tenhoff Award, 1988. Mr. Lappos holds 23 U.S. patents and three FAI world speed records. He has authored numerous technical papers for the American Helicopter Society, the Royal Aeronautical Society and the SAE, and written articles for magazines such as Rotor and Wing, Interavia, and has a regular column in HeliOps Magazine. Mr. Lappos was elected chairman of the board of directors of the Vertical Lift Consortium in 2010 and again in 2012. Mr. Lappos is a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran, and served as a Cobra attack helicopter pilot. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Republic of Vietnam’s Cross of Gallantry. Serving as a test pilot for Sikorsky for over 27 years, he has flown over 70 different helicopter types. With over 7,500 hours flight time, Mr. Lappos served as chief research and development test pilot for over 12 years. Mr. Lappos has served on numerous technical committees for NASA, the American Helicopter Society, the FAA, and NATO’s Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development committees and working groups. Mr. Lappos has participated in the development of serval flight systems such as the S76, UH-60, RAH-66, ABC, Fantail, Shadow, Fly-by-wire demonstrator, CH-53E, and S92. He was the program manager for the S-92 program during its development, certification, and introduction into production. During that time, the National Aeronautic Association awarded the S-92 Industry Team the Robert J. Collier Trophy. He has a B.S. in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He has served on the Academies’ Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, the Aeronautics Research and Technology Roundtable, and the Aeronautics 2050: A Workshop
Ella M. Atkins
ELLA M. ATKINS is a professor of aerospace engineering and associate director of robotics at the University of Michigan. She is also director of the Autonomous Aerospace Systems (A2SYS) Lab. She previously served on the Aerospace Engineering faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Atkins is past-chair of the AIAA Intelligent Systems Technical Committee, AIAA Associate Fellow, IEEE senior member, small public airport owner/operator (Shamrock Field, Brooklyn, MI) and private pilot. She was a member of the Institute for Defense Analysis Defense Science Studies Group. Dr. Atkins holds a B.S. and M.S. in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science and engineering from the University of Michigan. She has served on the Academies’ Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, the Committee on Autonomy Research for Civil Aviation, the Aeronautics Research and Technology Roundtable, and the Committee for the Review of NASA's Aviation Safety Related Programs.
James G. Bellingham
JAMES G. BELLINGHAM is the director of the Center for Marine Robotics at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). He arrived at WHOI from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, where he was director of engineering and recently chief technologist. Dr. Bellingham was founder and manager of the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-founder of Bluefin Robotics, a Massachusetts-based company that develops, builds, and operates autonomous underwater vehicles (since acquired by Battelle). He recently served as a member of the NSB committee that helped prepare the report, entitled Mainstreaming Unmanned Undersea Vehicles into Future U.S. Naval Operations.
Atherton A. Carty
ATHERTON A. CARTY is director of Enterprise Technology Roadmaps at Lockheed Martin. He is an executive leader within the Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs (ADP) organization, also known as “The Skunk Works,” where he is responsible for leading and advancing ADP’s Technology Roadmaps portfolio, including air vehicles, mission systems, survivability, and revolutionary technologies, as well as the conceptual design core competency. He is an AIAA Associate Fellow and has received the Lockheed Martin NOVA and Aerostar awards. He earned a M.S. for mechanical engineering from the George Washington University Joint Institute for the Advancement of Flight Sciences (JIAFS) at the NASA Langley Research Center. He has not previously served on an Academies’ committee.
Daniel DeLaurentis
DANIEL DELAURENTIS is a professor of aeronautical and astronautical engineering at Purdue University. He also serves as the director of the Institute for Global Security and Defense Innovation (i-GSDI) at Purdue University. His research is focused upon the development of foundational methods and tools for addressing problems characterized as system-of-systems in the context of Next-Generation Air Transportation Systems, especially including the presence of revolutionary aerospace vehicles, new business models, and alternate policy constructs. He has received the C.T. Sun Research Award and the Kevin Corker Award. Dr. DeLaurentis earned a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He has previously served on the Academies Panel on Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Sciences
Nancy G. Leveson
NANCY G. LEVESON (NAE) is a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and a professor of engineering systems at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She conducts research on the topics of system safety, software safety, software and system engineering, and human-computer interaction. Dr. Leveson received the ACM Allen Newell and the Sigsoft Outstanding Research Awards for computer science research, and the AIAA Information Systems Award for "developing the field of software safety and for promoting responsible software and system engineering practices where life and property are at stake." She has published more than 200 research papers and is the author of two books. Dr. Leveson received a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has previously served on the Academies’ Air Force Studies Board, the Committee for the Evaluation of NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Research Program, and the Steering Committee on Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics.
George T. Ligler
GEORGE T. LIGLER (NAE) is the proprietor of GTL Associates, which provides systems integration/engineering and product management services related to telecommunications, computer system and hardware/software engineering, and information management to domestic and foreign clients. Since August 2018, he has also been, on a half-time academic year basis, the Dean’s Eminent Professor of the Practice in the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill/North Carolina State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. He has worked as a subject matter expert to support the Federal Aviation Administration’s implementation of both satellite-based navigation and Automatic Dependent Surveillance—Broadcast (ADS-B) as components of the Next Generation Air Transportation System. Dr. Ligler is a member of RTCA’s Program Management Committee and the Plenary leadership group for the Industry-FAA Equip 2020 initiative related to ADS-B out equipage. Dr. Ligler is co-chair of RTCA Special Committee-159 (Navigation Equipment using the Global Navigation Satellite System) and a former founding co-chair of RTCA Special Committee-228 (Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Unmanned Aircraft Systems). He has also been active in RTCA Special Committee-186 (Automatic Dependent Surveillance—Broadcast) since its inception in 1995. Dr. Ligler was awarded the 2006 RTCA Achievement Award, RTCA’s highest award, for his contributions to ADS-B and satellite-based navigation system initiatives. He is also a co-recipient of the 2017 RTCA Achievement Award for his contributions to the development of standards for unmanned aircraft systems. Dr. Ligler holds a Ph.D. in mathematics and computation from Oxford University, with his studies supported by a Rhodes scholarship. He has previously served on the Academies’ Committee on Assessing Risk of UAS Integration into the National Airspace System.
Lourdes Q. Maurice
LOURDES Q. MAURICE is an independent aerospace consultant with DLM Global Strategies. She was previously the executive director of the Office of Environment and Energy at the Federal Aviation Administration, where she led environmental research and advanced technology development programs. She is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and has served as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Dr. Lourdes earned a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of London’s Imperial College at London. She has previously served as a member of the Academies’ Aeronautics Research and Technology Roundtable, the Committee on Air Force/Department of Defense Aerospace Propulsion, and the Committee for Review of NASA's Revolutionize Aviation Program.
Paul E. McDuffee
PAUL E. MCDUFFEE is business development and strategy executive at the Boeing Company. He is responsible for supporting the company’s development of autonomous vehicles and operations in urban air mobility. Prior to joing Boeing, Mr. McDuffee was Insitu, Inc. vice president of government relations and was responsible for regulation shaping and development of Insitu’s future in civilian and commercial use of unmanned aircraft. He continues in this role supporting the Boeing team in FAA in matters relating to regulation for UAS operations and as advocate for UAS national airspace integration. McDuffee’s involvement in UAS regulatory development is extensive. Prior to joining Insitu, he transitioned from a 30 year career in academia as a full professor and vice president of Aviation Training at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He joined Insitu as vice president of Flight Operations and Training before moving on to his current role. He currently serves on the AUVSI board of directors. He was a charter member of the FAA’s small Unmanned Aircraft System Aviation Rulemaking Committee and former member of the FAA UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee. He is past working group chair on ASTM’s F-38 Committee developing industry consensus standards for small UAS. He has served as co-chair of RTCA Special Committee 228 chartered by FAA to establish performance standards for UAS command and control and detect and avoid solutions. Mr. McDuffee is a recipient of the RTCA 2017 Achievement Award and received three Outstanding Leader Awards from RTCA . He was a member of the FAA/RTCA Drone Advisory Committee Subcommittee, and a member of the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team Steering Committee. He is an active pilot and aircraft owner holding Airline Transport Pilot and Flight Instructor Certificates, with jet type ratings, has logged over 9000 flight hours and holds both a B.S. and M.S. from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He has served on the Academies Committee on Assessing the Risks of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration.
Vineet Mehta
VINEET MEHTA vice president of engineering at AIRXOS (a GE venture) and is a member of the company’s founding team. He is responsible for spearheading architecture, design, development, and delivery of multiple mobile device and cloud based software products for unmanned aerial systems operations, logistics, and traffic management. He is responsible for management and fiscal oversight of an engineering organization with over fifty staff composed of software engineers. He was previously a group leader and principal investigator at MITRE Corporation, where he focused on various aspects of computer and network security, and was also the chief engineer at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Command. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell in electrical engineering. He has not previously served on an Academies’ committee.
Constantine Samaras
CONSTANTINE SAMARAS is an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His research spans energy, vehicle automation, technoeconomic assessment, and defense analysis, and he directs the Center for Engineering and Resilience for Climate Adaptation. He has published studies examining electric and autonomous ground and air vehicles, is a fellow in Carnegie Mellon’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, and is an affiliated faculty member in the Traffic21 Research Center. He is also an Adjunct Senior Researcher at the RAND Corporation. From 2009 to 2014 he was a researcher at the RAND Corporation, where he led research on strategic basing of major weapons systems, defense installation analysis, and energy technology assessment. He has served as the megaprojects engineer for Parsons Brinckerhoff. He is currently a FAA Certified Drone Pilot. He received his Ph.D. for civil and environmental engineering and engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University. He has previously served on the Academies Review of the U.S. DRIVE Research Program, Phase 4 committee.



Keck Center
500 5th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Event Type :  

Description :   

Urban Air Mobility Research and Technology Meeting One

Registration for Online Attendance :   

Registration for in Person Attendance :   

If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Gaybrielle Holbrook
Contact Email:
Contact Phone:  (202) 334-3477

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