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NASA Plans for AAM Vertiports

Teresa Whiting, NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

Several projects supporting NASA’s advanced air mobility, or AAM, mission are working on different elements to help make AAM a reality. One of these focus areas is vertiports. This concept graphic shows a vertiport design where an AAM vehicle could take off and land in the future.

Looking forward to catching an air taxi? NASA is working to answer where advanced air mobility (AAM) vehicles will take off and land. Many AAM aircraft will be electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, so they will have the ability to take off and land vertically like helicopters on helipads. AAM vehicle types could also include other power and operating concepts.

NASA’s AAM mission is researching where these vertiports or vertiplexes, which are multiple vertiports in proximity, will work into existing infrastructure like current airports and heliports. There is also work being done to investigate new landing areas that can be created from repurposed areas or purpose-built sites, or integrated into existing buildings such as a train or bus station.

Many early cases of eVTOLs taking off and landing will occur at existing airports. Down the road, these vehicles will use their unique performance capabilities to land on the top of buildings or other spaces in crowded urban areas.

High Density Vertiplex

NASA’s high density vertiplex (HDV) subproject is developing a vertiport automation system and using small remotely piloted aircraft to assess how vertiport automation can enhance safety and efficiency of operations. HDV will initially test these smaller remotely piloted aircraft but will progress to larger VTOL aircraft. The team is evaluating how automation built into a vertiport, vehicle, and air traffic management system could interact, how these systems can address hazards and contingencies, and how pilots, vertiport managers, and fleet managers will interact with the technology. Data collected from these tests will help inform future research areas in vertiport automation systems and urban air mobility operations in the areas around vertiports.

AAM Mission’s Vertiport Community Integration

The AAM mission is working with local communities to understand how vertiport concepts, infrastructure, and design can impact them directly. The teams have hosted information sessions to support awareness including presenting results from HDV’s efforts, security, and the results from a vertiport survey.

NASA’s vision is to map out a safe, accessible, and affordable new air transportation system alongside industry, community partners, and the FAA. Once developed, passengers and cargo will travel on-demand in innovative, automated aircraft across town, between neighboring cities, or to other locations typically accessed today by car.

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