An eVTOL Vehicle Can Use A New Concept Of Operations
Despite the fact that it is not the first concept of operations (ConOps) to discuss plans for advanced air mobility services utilizing electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, the document published by new partners Wisk Aero and Skyports appears to be the first to address fully autonomous operations produced specifically for stakeholder engagement. There is no doubt that EHang has been very actively engaged with the Chinese regulators over the course of the past few years regarding its extensive plans for commercial aircraft under its EH216 and VT-30 family of Autonomous Aerial Vehicles.
Rather than pitching Wisk's business model, which is a mystery to most observers, the 32-page document is a blueprint for how groundbreaking autonomous eVTOL flights could be developed. Based on NASA maturity levels for the new technology, it envisions the use of autonomous aircraft along with drones and piloted eVTOL vehicles.
Infrastructure concepts include six parking bays/gates for eVTOL aircraft and a pair of takeoff and landing areas at vertiports. The aircraft is presumed to operate under the rules of 14 CFR Part 135 of the FAA, or equivalent requirements in other countries. In my opinion, a more interesting, and perhaps contentious, assumption is that AAM services, before they can be scaled up to on-demand services, would first have to be offered as part of scheduled flights before technology is ready to support that.
ConOps considers automation, data systems, resource management, and scheduling systems in order to make vertiports run smoothly. Further, it discusses in some detail how aircraft and airspace data would be processed by sensors and situational awareness technology in order to make sure safe operations take place.
Towards the end of the document, Skyport and Wisk offer lists of the kinds of skills required to support each component of autonomous operations, laying out a step-by-step guide to how each commercial movement would be fulfilled. In addition, they discuss important considerations such as facility and operations security.