U.S. Initiates Overhaul of National Airspace for Automated Futureby@whitehouse

U.S. Initiates Overhaul of National Airspace for Automated Future

by The White HouseDecember 8th, 2023
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The U.S. Government prioritizes the transformation of the National Airspace System (NAS) through the FAA's NextGen Program. This initiative adapts the NAS to accommodate emerging technologies, drones, and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) vehicles, fostering new industries and ensuring safe, secure growth. The future of flight, highly automated and autonomous, is guided by a commitment to reliability, safety, and a national strategy outlined in the Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act.

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II. Transforming the National Airspace System

The U.S. Government will prioritize the efforts of the FAA’s NextGen Program to modernize the NAS. Emerging technologies, increasingly frequent commercial space launches, and high-altitude operations combined with increases in projected demand for traditional passenger travel and cargo shipments require a continued modernization of the air transportation system. The NAS of the near future will seamlessly manage complexity, become scalable, and dynamically adapt to a diverse set of users. Bolstered by the power of technology, this new paradigm will accommodate traditional aviation activities and the new entrants into the NAS. The safe integration of these aircraft at all levels of airspace challenges current monitoring systems; communications, navigation and surveillance infrastructure; and the regulatory environment. R&D will help mature these advanced technologies, supporting infrastructure, and the regulatory framework for the certification of new aircraft and technologies.

As part of this transformation, the U.S. Government will prioritize the comprehensive integration of new aeronautics technologies, with the potential to transform aviation, in both urban and rural communities, creating new industries and jobs. These technologies include small drones and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) vehicles, such as electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft, and other highly automated electric passenger or cargo carrying aircraft. The future NAS will incorporate strategies for the safe, efficient integration of civil and national security operations, ranging from slow, low altitude operations with observers to those conducted beyond the pilot’s Beyond Visual Line-Of-Sight (BVLOS) at a variety of altitudes and speeds.

The U.S. Government will support updates to the regulatory framework for the certification of new aircraft and technologies, thereby fostering the safe, secure growth of the drone and AAM industries. The U.S. Government will continue to expand drone certification and integration to accommodate the multiple personal and business uses of drones in the NAS as well as support research and training at the many colleges and universities that offer drone programs. The U.S. Government will also promote the safety of pilots, passengers, and the general public by updating infrastructure, training, and certification processes to operationalize AAM services. The U.S. Government will support the development of scalable AAM solutions to permit the growth of applications such as cargo and package delivery and emergency services. It will maintain research facilities and upgrade as needed to keep pace with emerging technologies, including Vertical Lift Research Centers of Excellence, and test facilities such as flight simulation and wind tunnels.

The future of flight is highly automated. Integrating autonomous processes and vehicles into the airspace of the future requires that autonomous vehicles have healthy self-monitoring systems and high-fidelity awareness of their surroundings, especially adjacent traffic. Certification of new vehicle architectures will need to ensure the reliability of the software and sensor suites to effect mature, safe, and stable flight.

In October 2022, the Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act was signed into law (Pub. L 117-203)[6] to coordinate efforts to integrate new aviation technologies into the NAS. Consistent with the law, the Department of Transportation (DOT) will work with relevant Federal departments and agencies to create a national strategy to implement the law, while ensuring continued U.S. leadership in these technologies.

[6] Congress, “Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act”.

This was originally published in March 2023 on

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