Deloitte wins NASA contract to develop UAM conops

Deloitte has secured a contract from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to develop a Concept of Operations (ConOps) for urban air mobility (UAM).

The project is part of the NASA broader effort, which focuses on the development and introduction of new air vehicles into the air transportation system in the United States. The 12-month project will include the development of an initial ConOps to be shared with the broader aviation and urban air mobility communities.

Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is an industry term used to describe the system that enables on-demand, highly automated, passenger- or cargo-carrying air transportation services within and around a metropolitan environment. The industry vision involves leveraging new vehicle designs and system technologies, developing new airspace management constructs and operational procedures, and embracing the sharing and services economy to enable a new transportation service network.
Aircraft manufacturers and service providers expect to use electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) technologies to enable runway-independent operations. They also expect to operate with very high degrees of automation, up to and including fully self-piloted aircraft. Most operators envision an on-demand service, enabling growth up to 100s or 1,000s of simultaneous operations around a metropolitan region at altitudes up to 5,000 feet and speeds up to 150 knots. These aircraft would carry cargo or 1-5 passengers on short-range trips (e.g. less than 100 km).
These operational characteristics will prevent an immediate deployment of full-scale UAM operations since existing airspace procedures, regulations, policies, and structures will not necessarily accommodate the envisioned operations. As an example, without an on-board pilot, compliance with visual flight rules and see and avoid requirements will not be feasible. Most proponents propose operating at a limited scale, some even proposing to begin with pilots in the aircraft much like current day helicopter operations, until the necessary constructs evolve to enable high-density self-piloted operations. Mitre

“With much change happening in aviation, NASA is being smart by asking what all of this change means to mobility and what will be needed to safely accommodate new air vehicles in our air transport system,” said Chris Metts, specialist executive, Deloitte Consulting. “What we love about this project is that it brings together our future of mobility work at the local, state and federal government level with our private-sector aerospace and systems engineering experience. It also allows us to collaborate with NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and industry in this most important, foundational activity for the future of aviation. Due to that mix of work, we could demonstrate a distinctive set of skills, capabilities and understanding of the changing aviation landscape.”

“Because of the rapid pace of change, developing a vision of urban air mobility requires practical knowledge of global aviation ecosystem as well as experience with disruptive change other commercial sectors,” said Matt Metcalfe, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, future of aviation and urban air mobility leader. “We have developed an advisory team of key global aviation and mobility leaders across Deloitte’s global aviation business as well as industry, federal and local government, and academia. They will provide tremendous insight and will help us shape a ConOps.”

Throughout the year, Deloitte has released a series of articles on “Elevating the Future of Mobility,” about the future role of aviation in mobility, which discusses how widespread use of UAM could reshape the future of mobility and aviation. The articles focus infrastructural, psychological and technological barriers as well as air traffic management challenges.

Read More In this paper Mitre lays out four concept components that could enable the routine integration of UAM traffic in existing terminal area airspace with minimal operational changes to existing rules, policies, and procedures and with minimal disruption to existing flight operations. However, additional research is required to further develop, explore the implications, and evaluate the feasibility of such concepts.