FAA Updates Airspace Blueprint for Urban Air Mobility
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released an updated blueprint for airspace and procedure changes to accommodate Urban Air Mobility (UAM) operations in the national airspace system. UAM envisions a transportation system that will use highly automated aircraft to transport passengers or cargo at lower altitudes within urban and suburban areas.
According to the FAA, air taxis will initially fly "much as helicopters do today", using existing routings and infrastructure. They will also be required to communicate and coordinate with existing air traffic control regulations. As the number of operations increases, air taxis are expected to fly in corridors between major airports and vertiports in city centers. The complexity of the corridors could increase over time from single one-way paths to routes serving multiple flows of aircraft flying in both directions.
FAA Airspace Blueprint for Urban Air Mobility Video
Included are procedures for over taking aircraft that are on the same course and altitude by shifting the passing aircraft's altitude to a dedicated "Passing Lane." Strangely, the official FAA video depicts this passing lane as one where aircraft moving in opposite oncoming directions will pass at the same altitude. Presumably, automated checks will be in place to prevent mid-air collisions.
The blueprint aims to provide a common frame of reference to the FAA, NASA and industry to help guide their research and decision-making.