NBAA has embraced the new technologies enabling unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and larger people carrying Urban Air Mobility (UAM). “We are witnessing changes in the aviation industry as significant as the introduction of the jet engine,” NBAA President Ed Bolen proclaimed at the opening of the 2019 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) in Las Vegas.
A captivating indoor aerial drone light show kicked off the Day 1 Keynote, setting the stage for a show for a discussion of the emerging new UAS and UAM technologies. Bolen welcomed tech entrepreneur and Earthlink founder Sky Dayton, who has continued to help build companies that have propelled the internet and other exciting technologies into our everyday lives, most recently as an investor in UAM developer Joby Aviation.
“Over a billion people spend an hour a day in traffic or more, and we can’t solve that by just adding more lanes. We need to go up,” he said. “We’re kind of uniquely positioned in the United States to be able to do this because we start with a strong infrastructure of general aviation airports.”
Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, spoke with attendees about his company’s goals of creating multimodal aerial rideshare, an automation platform, electric aircraft, and connected skyports in partnership with other industry players. Allison also discussed UberCopter, which provides airport transportation in New York City, but more importantly, is serving as a sort of launch platform to future urban air mobility (UAM) service using electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
“We want this to be an option for everyday transportation,” said Allison. “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen,” Allison predicts launching UAM operations using eVTOL aircraft in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in 2023.
On the show floor was the Safran mockup (see AirInsight’s An Interview with Safran on its partnership with Uber) of the Uber Air interior; Uber is working with six aircraft partners to incorporate this into vehicles. Attendees were able to take a vertical reality Uber Air flight from take-off to landing.
Check out what Uber’s other partners, Bell NEXUS and Jaunt, had to say at NBAA:
Discussions about urban air mobility (UAM) and electrically powered vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft dominated the agenda. NBAA BACE 2019 offered multiple sessions on UAS and UAM. The first panel on the Future of Urban Air Mobility was packed with standing room only!
NBAA wrapped up the event by unveiling a new report detailing the case for urban air mobility (UAM) and its benefits for business aviation. The report, titled “Business Aviation Embraces Electric Flight, How Urban Air Mobility Creates Enterprise Value,” was a joint undertaking of NBAA and NEXA Advisors, LLC, and is a component of a larger study that analyzed 74 cities around the world, forecasting the financial and economic business case for UAM. To determine the ability of metro areas to capitalize on its potential, the study examined each city’s needs with regards to infrastructure, regulation, congestion, current transportation networks, and other factors.
NBAA has stepped forward to support the emerging UAS and UAM industries. It is a sure bet that NBAA BACE 2020 in Orlando will have an even bigger focus on these new technologies.