September 8, 2023 | IFAR document submitted to the ICAO Council

Leading research institutions hand over scientific assessment on urban air mobility

Handover of the IFAR document on urban air mobility to ICAO
Ibrahim Yimer, Chairman of the International Forum for Aviation Research (IFAR) hands over the ‘Scientific Assessment for Urban Air Mobility’ to Juan Carlos Salazar, Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
  • A scientific assessment of economic and societal factors of unmanned aerial vehicles was submitted to the ICAO Council.
  • The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a specialised agency of the United Nations with headquarters in Montreal, Canada.
  • The statement was coordinated by DLR together with NASA and NRC.
  • Focus: International cooperation, Unmanned Aerial Systems

For more than two years, 80 international researchers – coordinated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Research Council Canada (NRC) – have been working on an assessment of urban air mobility. The result – the International Forum for Aviation Research (IFAR) ‘Scientific Assessment for Urban Air Mobility’ has now been submitted to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council 2023. As an independent scientific statement from 27 of the world’s leading aeronautical research institutions, the document has been welcomed by ICAO. It will serve as one of the reference documents for the newly established ICAO Advanced Air Mobility Study Group (AAM SG).

The document highlights the need for further international assessments of economic and societal factors related to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). In addition, a common understanding of the extent to which this emerging industry can leverage existing infrastructure and regulatory arrangements is important, as is harmonisation of industry-wide terminology.

Other key scientific messages include the need for further studies on the impact of autonomous systems on the industry; infrastructure requirements (including vertiports and meteorological sensing) to support the industry; and data requirements (including areas such as cybersecurity, emissions and safety) to ensure safe, scalable operations. In addition to the IFAR presentation to the ICAO Council, IFAR representatives also met with the ICAO Secretary General and ICAO representatives.

Since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2020, IFAR and ICAO have been working together to support innovation in air transport. The MoU led to the creation of a joint task force with the goal of presenting a global scientific consensus from IFAR's perspective on the technical challenges of implementing Urban Air Mobility (UAM) to ICAO, the international standardisation body for international civil aviation.

Better liaison between the international research community and ICAO will enable effective assessment of emerging air transport innovations. IFAR has established a UAM group to investigate the wide range of aspects relevant to the ICAO mandate.

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