The Federal Aviation Administration has unveiled an implementation plan outlining the integration of air taxis and advanced air mobility into the National Airspace by 2028.
The plan focuses on the "Innovate28" AAM project, reflecting the FAA's objective to permit AAM operations at limited locations by 2028. According to the FAA's announcement, the plan "includes various components and the sequence they will occur in for operations to be at scale at one or more sites by 2028."
Deputy FAA Administrator Katie Thomson commented,
"This plan shows how all the pieces will come together, allowing the industry to scale with safety as the north star."
Designed to establish a foundation for routine and predictable entry into service, the plan aims to maximize the use of existing procedures and infrastructure. It addresses various aspects, including aircraft and pilot certification, airspace access management, pilot training assurance, infrastructure development, security maintenance, and community engagement.
Additionally, the plan includes a comprehensive planning guide applicable to any site, outlining key integration objectives and sequences.
The Innovate28 (I28) project builds upon the FAA and Department of Transportation's (DOT) focus on AAM. In 2022, the U.S. DOT formed the Advanced Air Mobility Interagency Working Group. In May 2023, the FAA released the airspace blueprint for air taxis, followed by a comprehensive rule proposal for AAM pilot training and certification in June 2023. Former FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen, who announced the publication of the AAM blueprint at the AUVSI Xponential show, now works for AAM manufacturer Archer Aviation.
The report emphasizes a gradual progression of AAM operations through a "crawl, walk, run" approach, beginning with entry into service (EIS) and culminating in widespread AAM operations. Innovate28 serves as a stepping stone between EIS and full-scale operations.
Innovate28 is a collaborative project involving public and private stakeholders, aiming to move beyond EIS and establish regular AAM operations at specific key locations. The project will generate substantial data to inform future rulemaking and establish documented, repeatable processes for certification, operations, infrastructure, and more.
Understanding I28 Operations
Initially, the I28 plan outlines crewed AAM flights along predetermined schedules from existing heliports and airports, with necessary modifications such as electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Air Traffic Control will provide support for AAM operations. The FAA states that AAM may operate at altitudes of up to 4,000 feet in urban areas, utilizing existing or modified low altitude visual flight rules (VFR) routes where possible within controlled Class B and C airspace around major airports. The report provides further details for those seeking more in-depth information.
The report also highlights the need for stakeholders to address various issues associated with AAM operations, necessitating communication and collaboration among government agencies. Some of the areas being explored include potential upgrades to the electrical power grid, border and homeland security considerations, noise management, and environmental impacts of AAM operations.