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What’s New: The Dept of Transportation (Office of the Secretary, interestingly, not FAA) is asking for public input on “Advanced Air Mobility” or AAM.

According to NASA “The vision of AAM is that of a safe, accessible, automated, and affordable air transportation system for passengers and cargo capable of serving previously hard-to-reach urban and rural locations.”

Why it is important: The US national navigation “system” is entirely inadequate for the task.

Things to know:

  • A more-than sufficient positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) architecture was planned in 2008, yet virtually nothing has been done.
  • Worse, the administration has requested repeal of the National Timing Resilience and Security Act of 2018 which will make a big step in the right direction.
  • The Request for Information (RFI) acknowledges that GPS is not sufficient and new options for “continuity of navigation” are needed.
  • The RFI asks for input on several specific items about which RNTF members and our readers are very knowledgeable:
    • Alternative Means of Navigation Beyond GPS: Given that these vehicles are expected to operate in urban, suburban, and remote places, reliable and persistent GPS may not be always available. Additionally, AAM are expected to operate in areas where today’s radar arrays do not or cannot provide service. What are the most efficient, reliable, and readily available means to provide communication, navigation, and surveillance for AAM in a way that will not disrupt other modes of transportation? Please provide thorough information on alternative options to ensure continuity of navigation using alternative position, navigation, and timing capabilities.
    • Overall Functional Architecture: Given that AAM is an ecosystem consisting of aircraft, airspace, enabling communication, navigation, and surveillance technologies, as well as infrastructure, it is important to ensure consistency of assumptions about functions and requirements from each of these components. Please provide information regarding your assumptions about functional capabilities needed for infrastructure, communication, navigation, and surveillance technologies. This will enable the development of afunctional architecture consisting of comprehensive functional requirements and their performance, information exchanges, and various assumptions about roles and responsibilities.
    • National Security and Aviation Security Implications: Information about the national security implications of accelerating AAM in the United States, specifically how physical security of passengers and cargo should be addressed and who should bear responsibility for security assurances, security and system resilience, and what threats exist in considering the growth of counter-drone capabilities that will operate in similar low-altitude airspace. Information on these and other security issues should include the dual-use nature of any emerging airspace technologies and any opportunities or vulnerabilities created by emerging technologies and associated risk mitigation recommendations.

Request for Information on Advanced Air Mobility

This document has a comment period that ends in 53 days. (07/17/2023)