With the FAA’s final Engineering Brief for Vertiport Design anticipated to be released within the next few months, this summer has seen an uptick in congressional activity to support the development of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) infrastructure necessary for eVTOL and UAS operations. Following the House’s passage of the Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act (AAMCLA), in 2021, the Senate passed a companion bill in March 2022 that was recently approved (and amended) by the House in June 2022. The bill has since been referred back to the Senate.
The Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act
Both the Senate and House versions of the AAMCLA seek to establish an inter-agency working group that would be tasked with developing recommendations regarding federal support of AAM “safety, operations, security, cybersecurity, [and] infrastructure” development. The working group would consist of representatives from the FAA, Departments of Transportation, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security and the Federal Communications Commission.
The Advanced Aviation Infrastructure Modernization Act
The AAIMA is designed to provide grants to local land-use planners, government agencies, and airports seeking to develop AAM infrastructure. As currently drafted, the act would provide $25 million to DOT and FAA to fund the proposed grant program. Under both versions of the bill, parties eligible for funding would include state and local governments, airport sponsors, transit authorities, metropolitan planning organizations, and port authorities.
Importantly, for private sector investment in AAM infrastructure, the bills would prioritize grants for public-private partnerships.
While there is still work to be done to reconcile the differences in the versions passed by the House and the Senate before they are signed into law, congressional support for AAM and eVTOL infrastructure – especially for public-private partnerships – is welcome news for AAM stakeholders. Stay tuned for updates and insight on how these bills and any finalized FAA Vertiport Design guidance will impact the development and regulatory certification of AAM infrastructure.