Enabling Advanced Air Mobility: Insights From EUROCONTROL and the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau

This is the second in a two-part series covering a panel discussion on international cooperation for enabling advanced air mobility, featuring perspectives from EUROCONTROL and the JCAB. The AUVSI and the FAA hosted the discussion.

Last week, a panel of experts discussed the challenges and opportunities associated with cooperating internationally on advanced air mobility, or AAM. Jessica Orquina, Manager of the Implementation Branch for the FAA’s Safety & Integration Division in the UAS Integration Office, served as the moderator for the panel discussion. See insights from the FAA, Honeywell, and ANRA in our coverage of the first part of the panel discussion, published last week.

During the session, Tatsuya Hosaka, Deputy Director of the UAS/AAM Division for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) within the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB), talked about Japan’s efforts to enable AAM operations. “We have plans to realize commercial flights using AAM at Osaka Kansai Expo in 2025,” he shared. “We expect to expand services to all over Japan from 2025 onwards. So we have been proceeding with various considerations regarding AAM.”

Hosaka noted that it is necessary to establish rules regarding aircraft safety and operations, and to conduct safety reviews for the classification of aircraft. “In order to develop systems and standards in Japan, we have established a Public Private Council (PPC) whose members are aircraft manufacturers, operators, and related agencies,” he explained.

“In addition, we have set up some working groups under the PPC, and specific studies have been conducted. We believe that improving social acceptability and building business models are essential for AAM. We have continued to exchange information with public and private stakeholders such as local governments, operators, and manufacturers.”

Andrew Hately, a researcher at EUROCONTROL’s Experimental Centre, responded to a question posed by Jessica Orquina of the FAA: How do you see AAM developing in Europe, and how can this be harmonized with activities elsewhere around the world?

“Quite a number of the commercial actors in the AAM environment are in a real rush to get flying as soon as possible,” Hately stated. “So there’s a bit of a tension with the actions of the regulators. In Europe, we’ve essentially tried to divide the problem.”

“We’re looking at a number of new innovations which are coming along simultaneously,” he continued. “These include new vehicles with electric power; we have UTM, [or] U-space, and we have remote control of the aircraft. We have new infrastructure—vertiports—and new airspace structures.”

“The aim of the regulator in Europe is to try and look at these one by one and individually convince themselves something is safe and can work,” he said. In Europe, the SESAR Joint Undertaking is leading a significant research program. The SESAR JU commissions a wide range of research projects. 

Hately remarked of EUROCONTROL, “We are taking part in quite a number of research projects which are trying to push the envelope towards maturity as fast as we can to see if we can meet the aspirations of those who would like to operate eVTOLs and have them flying at the 2024 Olympics.”

He noted that there is a lot of pressure in the direction of progress; “We’re doing what we can.” From his perspective, it is most important to take a collaborative approach in Europe. The SESAR JU is driving research projects that involve cooperative efforts. That indicates how the entire world should work to advance AAM: “a harmonized research agenda that will lead us towards rapid and common solutions,” Hately explained.

The FAA’s Jessica Orquina asked Tatsuya Hosaka of the JCAB what challenges Japan faces related to AAM integration. “There is a difference in [altitude] between conventional aircraft and AAM,” he stated. “It goes without saying that the flight levels of AAM are lower than conventional aircraft. However, we need to give careful consideration to AAM flight in specific areas such as around airports and very low-level airspace.”

Hosaka explained that in Japan, they are just starting to create a new concept for a system to enable air traffic control of advanced air mobility vehicles, though it is still under consideration. “The system may be integrated with ATM [air traffic management] in the future,” he added. 

“I’m a little worried about the human resources shortage, but for the initial operations, including operations at Osaka Kansai Expo, we plan to use the existing systems,” Hosaka said. “So eVTOLs are going to be operated under VFR with existing systems.”

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