EASA (the European Union Aviation Safety Agency) has now published the outcome of a study into how acceptable Urban Air Mobility (UAMs) will be to members of Society across Europe.

The study focussed on 4 cities across the EU which had been identified as the potential target markets for Urban Air Mobility; focussing on drones and manned eVTOL aircraft; specifically looking at five different groups of vehicles:

  • Passenger transport (such as air taxis and flying an emergency doctor to the site of an accident)
  • Delivery drones
  • Civil surveillance and monitoring (such as assessing the extent of fires and accidents)
  • Police surveillance
  • Use for providing signal emitters for multimedia applications or intenet access

Whilst infrastructure was seen as the main challenge for the industry, safety was the next biggest perceived challenge.

Challenges faced by eVTOLs and other UAMs

From the point of view of how acceptable eVTOL aircraft would be in an urban environment, safety was also seen as a major concern and came out just slightly behind the issue of noise from the aircraft. Indeed the main concern for potential users was noise and safety.

Socially Acceptability Challenges

The report also considers the views of governments, public institutions and regulators; where the focus was said to be the public good, and safety of the public above other factors.

Interestingly, the report suggests that eVTOLs could achieve the same level of safety as aviation did within the EU during 2018 (0.01 fatalities per billion passenger kilometers).  It was however, recognised that air taxis pose a potential safety threat not only to the passengers using them. Pedestrians will be affected by drones and air taxis, despite not necessarily choosing to use them themselves, and so the hypothesis was that the perceived safety of pedestrians will have a significant impact on the societal acceptance of drones and air taxi operations.

To some extent, the concerns over safety are reduced in the report, as it recognises that “Respondents often took for granted that safety would be guaranteed by authorities that authorise them to fly. Therefore, safety was not mentioned very often as a key concern”.  The report also goes on to say that “One reason for this is that the perception of the safety dimension might be underrated in this survey as people are used to and expect high safety standards when it comes to aircraft.”

The report later concludes that whilst a high safety bar may lead to significantly higher costs for the business cases of the companies in the eVTOL field, safety is not a dimension where a business trade-off is acceptable in society.  “Even a low number of accidents such as seen for autonomous cars can quickly cause a deterioration of public perception, thus the highest standards should be applied to UAM to foster its acceptance”.

The full report can be read on the EASA website.

How can ABBS provide eVTOL Companies with the Necessary Solution

ABBS offers a full Zero-Zero Safety System for eVTOL Aircraft which uses a series of parachutes, rockets, crashworthy seats and airbags to ensure that in an emergency eVTOL Aircraft can be landed without serious injury to the passengers or pilot.

This will ensure the highest standards for UAMs / eVTOL aircraft, as it means that crashes are survivable, even during the vertical take-off and landing stage; when the aircraft are most at risk from engine failure and/or bird strike.