3rd Transformative Workshop is Huge Success

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The third annual Joint Workshop on Transformative Vertical Flight Concepts, with the subtitle of “Enabling New Flight Concepts through Novel Propulsion and Energy Architectures,” was held on Sept. 29-30 in Hartford, Connecticut. The workshop series has brought together vehicle developers, technology companies, government scientists and regulators, investors, and potential electric VTOL customers/operators.

The AHS-led joint workshop — with NASA, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and SAE International — was held in conjunction with the joint SAE-AIAA-AHS-Royal Aeronautics Society International Powered Lift Conference (IPLC), which itself was part of the SAE 2016 Aerospace Systems and Technology Conference (ASTC), Sept. 27-29, 2016. The triennial IPLC focuses on the latest non-helicopter developments in Vertical and/or Short Take-Off and Landing (V/STOL) aircraft research, concepts and programs.

The objective of the annual Transformative Vertical Flight Workshop is to engage industry, academia and government agencies in developing a preliminary roadmap that will aid in the advocacy and pursuit of emerging technologies and approaches, such as electric/hybrid power and distributed propulsion, that offer the potential to fundamentally transform vertiport-capable flight configuration designs and operational concepts. As these new configuration types cannot be modeled adequately by conventional analytical tools modeling, and do not inherently fit into the existing rotorcraft certification framework (Part 27), they require new conceptual design tools and regulations able to capture the fundamental differences in approach. This initiative brings together interested parties to establish a foundation from which investment can fill the gaps to achieve successful new aviation products.

The workshops combine the mutual interests of technical organizations, government laboratories (e.g. NASA and DARPA) and industry to collaboratively explore and exploit the potential for new opportunities for vertiport-capable flight. The initiative is focused on achieving participation from all stakeholders, including new and small companies aggressively focused on this topic, as well as mature aerospace companies for whom this could enhance or augment their conventional vertiport-capable flight products.

To date, the Transformative initiative has made significant strides towards its four key desired outcomes:

  1. Establish and document common stakeholder needs, areas of collaboration, and advocacy to establish methods to encourage the future success of unconventional vertiport-capable flight concept solutions that are newly enabled by technologies.
  2. Assemble a community to collaborate on new conceptual design and analysis tools that permit new configuration paths with far greater multi-disciplinary coupling (i.e. aero- propulsive-control) to be investigated.
  3. Establish a community to develop and deploy regulatory guidelines with potential formation of an ASTM F44 Committee Subgroup for the development of consensus-based certification standards for General Aviation scale vertiport-capable flight systems that provides fixed wing approaches that don't fit within existing FAA Part 27 certification.
  4. Launch an information campaign to ensure key US government agencies understand the potential benefit and industry interest in establishing new vertiport capable flight markets.

Uber Announcement on Electric VTOL

During the AHS-sponsored reception, Nikhil Goel, a product manager of special projects at Uber Technologies, commented on Uber's plans for moving urban transportation to the skies with electric VTOL. A transcription follows:

Uber logo At Uber, we are super obsessed with cities, improving cities, unlocking their immense value through urban mobility. And to us urban mobility means a couple of things. One, it means cutting congestion. It means eliminating parking, which can take up to a third of urban real estate, and dramatically reducing pollution. It means giving people their time back. To us, urban air transportation is simply a continuation of our mission, right? Not only because it can cut congestion — it's got massive potential to do that — but it allows us to move people from Point A to B much, much faster than you would otherwise.

If you do it in all-electric vehicles, you can do it with zero emissions, and so we're super excited about that. But as I look around, I think I've seen today, yesterday and this week that a lot of you guys are equally as excited about that. There's clearly a lot of really creative work going on in this space.

So at Uber, we're super excited about figuring out how we can fast forward that entire ecosystem of that future version of cities that we all kind of share, right? So right now we are in learning mode. We're trying to figure out how we can most effectively do that. And so we're just really excited to be here amongst the flight experts and hopefully getting the opportunity to collaborate with a few of you going forward.

Update, Oct. 27: Uber Unveils Electric VTOL Plans 

Success!

With more than 125 attendees, the workshop also featured guest presentation by leading electric VTOL innovators like e-volo GmbH (Volocopter) and Aurora Flight Sciences (LightningStrike), as well as six presentations relating to NASA’s high-speed On-Demand Mobility (ODM) air transportation.

The key product of the workshop was to develop the next iteration of an industry roadmap to aid in the advocacy and pursuit of emerging technologies and approaches.

Go to www.vtol.org/transformative to download the presentations and other materials from this and the two previous Transformative Vertical Flight Workshops.