Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) as a Foundation of Community Resiliency: A Visionary Response to the USDOT Request for Information on AAMIntegration.

Harper, Clint. (2023). Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) as a Foundation of Community
Resiliency: A Visionary Response to the USDOT Request for Information on AAM
Integration. Unpublished manuscript

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) as a Foundation of Community Resiliency: A
Visionary Response to the USDOT Request for Information on AAM
By: Clint Harper
August 15, 2023
This document is intended to be freely accessible and open to the public. Readers are encouraged
to share and distribute this work. While this document is provided as open access, the author
kindly requests that proper attribution be given when citing or referencing this work.

I. Introduction
Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) represents more than just a novel means of transportation; it
holds the transformative potential to unite, uplift, and connect communities in unprecedented
ways. Beyond serving as a mere novelty for the affluent, AAM is envisioned as a practical and
affordable solution that can address a wide range of community needs, from daily commuting
to emergency response. This vision positions AAM as a key tool for enhancing overall
community resilience. However, realizing this vision requires substantial effort to equip
communities with advanced tools and knowledge. For AAM to be genuinely integrated into the
fabric of our communities, proactive engagement and education are essential. This involves
more than just words; it calls for transparent dialogues, educational initiatives, and, most
importantly, public demonstrations of vehicles that allow people to see and understand AAM in
My journey in aviation and community service spans over two decades, beginning with military
service and extending through fire service, aviation planning, transportation planning, and
economic development. These diverse roles have been more than just jobs; they have been a
continuous education in the intricate relationship between technology, community, and service.
My passion for serving communities has been the compass guiding me to explore innovative
ways to better integrate aviation within our daily lives. Working alongside local and state
officials has been not just a professional duty, but a personal privilege. I see advanced air
mobility as an opportunity to contribute to sustainable community development efforts that are
already underway.
There are several well-thought-out responses detailing valid concerns and issues regarding the
integration of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) technologies; I fully support their careful and
thoughtful consideration. However, I have chosen to steer my response in a different direction. I
aim to propose a vision—a vision that outlines how we can tailor AAM to work harmoniously
within our communities. My hope is to inspire positive change within the aviation industry, to
advocate for a future where air mobility is more sustainable and accessible, and to encourage
the industry to become better stewards of the communities they serve. In doing so, I hope that
the aviation industry can position itself as a part of the solution to existing and ongoing efforts
aiming to rectify the harm inflicted by past transportation decisions. It is these goals that inform
the vision proposed here.
II. Vision for AAM: A Community-Centric Approach
Integrating Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) into our national transportation fabric is more than a
technological milestone; it is a profound opportunity to reimagine aviation as a catalyst for
equitable and sustainable community development. While the urban air taxi use case is
glamorous and groundbreaking, AAM should serve more than just large metropolitan areas and
those who can afford steep ticket prices. It should extend to applications like medical logistics
and emergency response, thereby enhancing overall community resilience.
Let’s envision vertiports and UAS infrastructure as vibrant, multifaceted hubs—integral parts of
our communities rather than isolated, purely functional, and mechanical sites. These Resiliency
Hubs should fulfill at least three core roles: they must serve as multimodal transportation
centers, act as energy hubs contributing to community resilience and sustainability, and
function as digital nerve centers, enhancing digital connectivity for all. These hubs, whether
arising from private investment or public funding, should harmonize with and complement local
businesses, enrich public spaces, and respect the natural and cultural character of our
For AAM to be genuinely integrated into communities, proactive engagement and education are
essential. Addressing misconceptions and fears requires transparent dialogues, educational
initiatives, and public demonstrations of vehicles. By actively involving communities in the AAM
conversation, we can foster a sense of ownership and partnership. This ensures that the
development of AAM aligns with community values and aspirations, rather than being
perceived as an imposition.
III. Resiliency Hubs: The Heart of AAM Infrastructure
An Introduction to Resiliency Hubs
Resiliency Hubs are envisioned as vibrant, multifaceted centers that are integral parts of our
communities. More than just functional sites for AAM, they are conceived as community
partners contributing to broader sustainability and resilience goals.
Multimodal Transportation Centers
Resiliency Hubs are designed to serve as multimodal transportation centers, seamlessly
connecting AAM with other forms of transportation. This integration is essential. By weaving
these hubs into the fabric of our neighborhood, they can enhance local transportation
options and improve accessibility.
Energy Hubs
These hubs are microgrids, designed to contribute to community resilience and
sustainability. They would generate renewable energy, which, while likely having limited
capacity to charge aircraft, can significantly benefit host communities by supplying power to
essential local services, thereby integrating AAM infrastructure into local energy resilience
Digital Nerve Centers
Resiliency Hubs are also poised to function as data and communications hubs, enhancing
digital connectivity for all. As AAM, and other transportation modes, moves towards more
autonomous operations, the digital infrastructure at these hubs will be integral to ensuring
the safe and efficient operation of autonomous vehicles across different modes, making
these hubs as central nodes in a complex, interconnected, safe, and reliable transportation
Whether arising from private investment or public funding, these hubs are designed to
harmonize with and complement local businesses, enrich public spaces, and respect the natural
and cultural character of our communities, rather than disrupt or overshadow them.
Resiliency Hubs Envisioned
As we examine deeper into the concept of Resiliency Hubs, it becomes clear that their
implementation is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, they are adaptable, designed to
meet the unique needs and characteristics of the communities they serve. Two key forms of
these hubs—airports and vertiports—serve as prime examples of how this innovative
infrastructure can be tailored to different scales and settings, each with its own distinct
opportunities and challenges. Let’s explore these visions further:
Vertiports: The Community Connectors
Imagine a Vertiport located at or very near a major public transit station. It is a bustling
center of activity beyond simply a landing pad for air taxis and drones. The integration of
aviation into these multimodal hubs, along with associated investments, has elevated the
overall character of the station for all modes, making the entire transportation experience
safer, cleaner, and more efficient. An integrated microgrid, while not robust enough to
charge aircraft, funnels produced energy back into the neighborhood, illuminating public
spaces, powering community centers, and charging micromobility options.
Airports: Resiliency Powerhouses
In addition to being regional multimodal transit or freight hubs, existing airports are
transformed into significant renewable energy generators. Their expansive footprints
harness clean energy that powers not only airport operations but is also stores energy to
contribute to the local grid. In times of a power outage, these airports can act as reliable
backups, ensuring that essential services remain uninterrupted. They evolve from mere
aviation hubs to critical components of the community’s resilience strategy.
Resiliency Hubs also function as state-of-the-art digital communications centers. They ensure
that essential digital services remain operational during significant network outages. These hubs
offer high-speed internet access, enabling workers and community members to remote-work
effectively and reliably, thereby serving as vital resources in bridging the digital divide. In
emergencies, they transform into robust command and control centers, where various agencies
can gather to manage response efforts effectively, taking advantage of, and building upon,
aviation’s natural role in emergency and disaster response.
These visions for Resiliency Hubs illustrate the transformative potential of integrating Advanced
Air Mobility infrastructure into our communities. They are designed to be more than just
functional sites; they are community partners that contribute to broader sustainability and
resilience goals, harmonizing with and complementing local businesses, enriching public spaces,
and respecting the natural and cultural character of our communities.
IV. Regulatory Landscape: Challenges and Opportunities
The regulatory landscape for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) is complex and, at present, still
somewhat murky. As we navigate this landscape, the need for a national strategy that is as
dynamic as the technology it governs is paramount. This strategy should be expansive, inclusive,
and agile, designed to address several key regulatory challenges and opportunities.
An Expansive and Inclusive National Strategy: Addressing Regulatory Challenges
Central to navigating these challenges is the development of a National Strategy for AAM that
prioritizes equity at its core, ensuring that regulations are crafted to serve diverse community
needs and not just a select few. This means welcoming the full spectrum of new and emerging
aircraft, while embracing a rich spectrum of use cases that go beyond air taxis, including medical
logistics, organ transport, emergency response, and regional air mobility.
By adopting an expansive and inclusive national strategy, we can address several key regulatory

  • Harmonizing Standards: A unified national strategy can help to harmonize standards
    across states and localities, reducing the complexity for operators and manufacturers
    and ensuring consistent safety and operational protocols.
  • Equitable Access: A focus on equity within the strategy ensures that regulations are
    crafted to promote widespread access to AAM services, avoiding the creation of a
    system that serves only the affluent in urban areas.
  • Adaptive Regulations: An agile strategy allows for regulations that can evolve in step
    with rapid technological innovation, ensuring that rules remain relevant and effective
    without stifling innovation.
    Navigating the Dichotomy: Federal, State, and Local Regulatory Roles
    The current ecosystem for AAM presents a unique interplay between federal and local
    authorities. While the FAA clearly delineates the regulation of aircraft, operations, and airspace,
    the expected private development of AAM infrastructure introduces a new dynamic where state
    and local authorities play a significant role.
    Federal Role: Setting the Standards
    Performance-based regulations and standards, currently under development for vertiport
    infrastructure, present a promising path forward. These standards, led by the FAA, aim to
    establish a consistent safety baseline for AAM operations nationwide. They are adaptable and
    allow for local customization while maintaining a core set of safety and operational protocols.
    Performance-based regulations and standards should extend to vital supporting infrastructure,
    including communications, weather monitoring, and emergency response capabilities.
    State and Local Role: Customization and Implementation
    With much of the AAM infrastructure expected to be developed by private entities, state and
    local authorities are positioned as key partners in this process. They have the option to adopt
    federal regulations as they are or to adapt these policies and regulations to better align with
    local contexts and needs.
    The Importance of Informed Decision-Making
    Given the novelty and complexity of AAM, crafting effective state and local regulations is a
    nuanced task. This reflects the specialized nature of AAM. Collaborative efforts, involving federal
    agencies, industry stakeholders, and academic institutions, can provide valuable insights and
    resources to state and local authorities, supporting them in this important role.
    The Risk of Inconsistent Regulations
    The decentralized nature of this regulatory framework around privately developed
    infrastructure carries the potential for varied approaches across jurisdictions. This is not
    inherently problematic as each locale has unique needs but does highlight the importance of
    coordination to avoid unintended inconsistencies and consequences that could complicate or
    compromise the safety of AAM operations that occur over multiple jurisdictions.
    The Need for Collaboration
    This unique regulatory landscape of privately developed infrastructure underscores the need for
    clear and effective collaboration between federal, state, and local authorities. Establishing
    mechanisms for ongoing dialogue and coordination is essential, ensuring that regulations evolve
    cohesively as AAM technology advances and becomes an integral part of our national and local
    transportation ecosystems.
    Adaptive and Evolving Regulations for a Dynamic Landscape
    As Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) continues to evolve, so too must the regulatory frameworks
    that govern it. The rapid pace of technological innovation in this sector presents both an
    opportunity and a challenge. It is an opportunity to foster innovation through regulations that
    are as dynamic as the industry they are designed to support. It is a challenge because it requires
    a level of agility and responsiveness that traditional regulatory processes are not always
    designed to accommodate.
    In this context, the concept of adaptive regulations emerges as a key theme. These are
    regulations designed to be flexible and responsive, evolving in tandem with advancements in
    AAM technology and operations. They are crafted with the understanding that as AAM matures,
    the rules that govern it may need to be updated, refined, or reimagined entirely.
    This adaptive approach is not solely the responsibility of federal authorities; it is a collaborative
    endeavor that involves state and local jurisdictions, industry stakeholders, and the public. It is
    about creating a regulatory environment where ongoing dialogue, data sharing, and joint
    problem-solving are the norms, not the exceptions.
    In conclusion, the regulatory landscape for AAM is as pioneering as the technology itself. It is a
    landscape that we, as a nation, are charting together—federal, state, and local authorities,
    industry, and communities alike. As we move forward, our regulations must be more than just
    rules; they must be living, evolving frameworks that enable safe, equitable, and sustainable
    AAM operations, while empowering our communities to thrive in this new era of aviation.
    V. Technological Foundations for AAM
    The promise of our presented vision for AAM and Resiliency Hubs is deeply intertwined with
    the technological innovations that underpin it. It is essential to understand the current
    technological landscape, the hurdles that must be overcome, and the symbiotic relationship
    between AAM technology and infrastructure.
    AAM is not just about the aircraft; it’s about the aircraft, operations, and symbiotic relationship
    with the entire ecosystem. The technology that powers AAM vehicles is deeply interconnected
    with the infrastructure that supports them. For example, the design of vertiports will be
    influenced by the energy needs of eVTOL aircraft, and the communications systems used by
    these aircraft will need to be integrated with broader traffic management systems and other
    supporting ground infrastructure.
    Current Technological Hurdles
    Energy Challenges and Infrastructure Solutions
    One of the most significant hurdles for AAM is energy. Is the technology feasible, accessible, and
    reasonable in cost to enable the rapid charging of large battery systems, without inducing
    exorbitant ticket prices? The development of energy-dense and rapidly rechargeable batteries is
    critical for the widespread adoption of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. This
    challenge extends to the infrastructure, where the design of vertiports and other facilities will
    need to account for these energy needs.
    Autonomy and Safety
    Achieving the levels of autonomy required for large-scale AAM operations is a complex
    challenge. Ensuring the safety of these autonomous operations, particularly in densely
    populated areas, is paramount. The infrastructure plays a vital role here as well, as it will need
    to be designed to support the high-speed, low-latency communications needed to ensure safe
    and efficient operations.
    The Role of Resiliency Hubs in Overcoming These Hurdles
    Resiliency Hubs, as envisioned within the AAM context, are designed to be integral components
    of the AAM ecosystem, and of the communities they serve. In the context of these challenges,
    these hubs emerge as pivotal players, poised to address some of the key technological hurdles
    facing AAM in a thoughtful and holistic manner.
    As we move forward, it is essential that our approach to AAM technology and infrastructure
    development is comprehensive and harmonized. The aircraft, the vertiports, the traffic
    management systems, and the energy infrastructure must all be developed in concert. This
    coordinated development should be guided by a unified vision that prioritizes safety, equity,
    sustainability, and community benefit, ensuring that AAM integration into our national and local
    landscapes is transformative and responsible.
    VI. Social Acceptance and Community Engagement
    AAM integration into communities is not solely a matter of technological capability. It is equally
    a matter of social acceptance and actual need. Without community engagement and dialogue,
    AAM technologies present as a neat solution, without a real problem to solve.
    Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) deserve
    a measure of appreciation for propelling AAM into the national spotlight. However, it is
    concerning that our leadership has responded by leaning heavily towards the air taxi use case.
    While this application is undeniably groundbreaking, its initial deployment is poised to serve
    only a select few large metropolitan areas, primarily catering to those who can afford the
    inevitably higher ticket prices. This approach risks setting a precedent of exclusivity that could
    prove challenging to overturn.
    Equity must be at the heart of our national strategy. To this end, our strategy must encompass a
    rich spectrum of use cases that go beyond air taxis, embracing roles such as medical supply
    delivery, organ transport, emergency response, mid-mile cargo movement, last-mile package
    delivery, and regional air mobility. This means welcoming a diverse fleet of emerging aircraft,
    including electric conventional takeoff and landing (eCTOL) aircraft, electric short takeoff and
    landing (eSTOL) aircraft, and innovative uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) technologies. These
    varied use cases hold the promise of delivering tangible benefits to a broad cross-section of our
    communities, urban, suburban, and rural; extending AAM’s benefits to beyond a privileged few.
    Public acceptance of AAM is inextricably linked to safe aircraft, operations, and infrastructure.
    Comprehensive pilot training, and robust aircraft certification processes are foundational to this
    new era of aviation. However, safety extends beyond the aircraft themselves; it is deeply
    intertwined with the infrastructure that supports these operations. Communities need to be
    assured that the vertiports and other supporting infrastructure are designed, developed, and
    MAINTAINED with the highest safety standards in mind.
    Noise pollution is a significant concern for communities when considering the integration of
    AAM. While many AAM vehicles might produce lower overall noise levels compared to
    traditional aircraft, the nature of the noise—often higher-pitched in the case of UAS—can still
    be perceived as disruptive. The Day Night average sound Level (DNL) metric, which currently
    governs legacy aircraft, may not be adequately equipped to address the unique acoustic profile
    of AAM vehicles. As AAM becomes more prevalent, there is a pressing need to revisit and
    possibly recalibrate these metrics to ensure community comfort, compatibility with wildlife
    populations, and acceptance.
    With the onset of AAM operations, the demand on energy infrastructure will inevitably
    increase, posing significant challenges in a landscape where some energy providers already face
    strains. For instance, on hot days when air conditioning usage soars, energy infrastructure can
    be stretched thin, leading to situations where providers must institute policies such as rolling
    brownouts or requests for the public to refrain from charging electric vehicles during peak
    hours. A comprehensive AAM strategy must engage in a broader dialogue about how to
    enhance and stabilize the overall energy supply infrastructure in the U.S., ensuring that AAM
    can be integrated into communities in a way that is sustainable and equitable.
    Proactive Community Engagement and Education
    For AAM to be successfully integrated into daily life, proactive and transparent engagement
    with communities is essential. This involves educating the public on the benefits and safety
    measures of AAM, addressing concerns, and actively involving communities in the planning and
    decision-making processes. It means not only responding to community concerns but
    anticipating them and addressing them proactively through open dialogue.
    Public Demonstrations
    To build trust and acceptance, transparency in AAM operations is key. This extends beyond the
    aircraft themselves to encompass the entire AAM ecosystem, including infrastructure and
    operational procedures.
    Aircraft Demonstrations: Public demonstrations that allow people to see, hear, and
    understand AAM vehicles in action are foundational. These events provide an opportunity for
    the public to witness the capabilities of these aircraft, understand their safety features, and
    appreciate the stringent standards they are designed to meet.
    Infrastructure Showcases: Open houses at vertiports can demystify the infrastructure that
    supports AAM. These events can educate the public on the energy-efficient designs of these
    facilities, the renewable energy sources they may employ, and the community benefits they
    are designed to provide as Resiliency Hubs, such as emergency power during grid outages.
    Emergency Response Exhibitions: As electric and autonomous technologies continue to
    proliferate across various industry sectors, the probability of related incidents will likely
    increase. These exhibitions could showcase how new response capabilities enabled by AAM
    can assist local fire departments and public safety officials in preparing for and responding
    to a variety of incidents, including those involving electric vehicles and related infrastructure.
    Autonomy and Safety Exhibitions: Demonstrations that showcase how advanced
    autonomous systems can prevent incidents are vital. For example, simulations or live
    demonstrations could illustrate how autonomous systems can detect and avoid obstacles,
    manage complex air traffic scenarios, and safely handle emergency situations.
    Microclimate Sensor Technology: Public demonstrations of advanced microclimate sensors
    can preemptively identify potential hazards—such as sudden wind gusts, microbursts, or
    severe turbulence—as well as provide a higher fidelity of data to decision making processes
    that will optimize the airspace; these demonstrations underscore a proactive commitment to
    safety. These sensors can also be instrumental in tracking hazardous plumes in emergency
    scenarios, or identifying areas with extreme weather conditions that might impact
    vulnerable populations.
    Transparent Sharing of Records and Procedures: Coupled with these demonstrations, the
    transparent sharing of safety records, operational procedures, and incident response plans
    can go a long way in fostering public confidence. This could include public forums where
    operators and regulators answer questions and address concerns directly from the
    These comprehensive public demonstrations and transparency initiatives are designed to
    demystify AAM and foster public confidence by allowing people to see, hear, and understand
    the full scope of the AAM ecosystem in action.
    Equity and Inclusivity
    To ensure that the AAM industry is reflective of the diverse communities it serves, intentional
    efforts must be made to cultivate a workforce that is diverse in race, gender, age, and
    background. This involves creating pathways for underrepresented groups to enter and thrive in
    the AAM sector, from pilots and engineers to policy makers and community liaisons.
    Comprehensive and accessible training programs are therefore essential. These programs
    should not only focus on the technical skills required to operate and maintain new types of
    aircraft and infrastructure, but also on community planning, economic development, outreach
    and engagement, and cultural competencies.
    The integration of Advanced Air Mobility into our communities is a societal shift that requires
    thoughtful, proactive, and transparent engagement with the public. This extends to fostering a
    diverse and well-trained workforce that is reflective of the communities AAM aims to serve. It is
    imperative that equity and inclusivity are central to this transformation, ensuring that the
    benefits of AAM extend beyond a privileged few and contribute positively to all segments of
    society. Achieving this vision demands substantial funding, resources, and cooperation from
    industry stakeholders, government agencies, and communities themselves. It is through this
    collaborative and well-resourced approach that we can ensure AAM is introduced not as an
    imposition, but as a welcomed, beneficial, and integral part of our national and local
    transportation ecosystems. This collective effort is vital for enabling the AAM industry to launch,
    scale, and thrive in a manner that is safe, equitable, and sustainable for all.
    VII. Conclusion and a Call to Action
    Integrating AAM as a catalyst for equitable and sustainable community development is possible
    through a collaborative effort. However, the current trajectory, leaning heavily towards the air
    taxi use case, risks setting a precedent of exclusivity that could prove challenging to overturn,
    serving only select large metropolitan areas and those who can afford higher ticket prices.
    For AAM to be genuinely integrated into communities, proactive engagement and education are
    essential. This involves transparent dialogues, educational initiatives, and public demonstrations
    of vehicles. By actively involving communities in the AAM conversation, we can foster a sense of
    ownership and partnership, ensuring that the development of AAM aligns with community
    values and aspirations, rather than being perceived as an imposition.
    The economic impediments facing AAM are deeply intertwined with the regulatory,
    technological, and social challenges that characterize this emerging industry. To chart a
    financially sustainable trajectory for AAM, a strategy must harmonize technological innovation
    with strategic infrastructure investments, offer clear and adaptive regulatory guidance, and
    maintain an unwavering dedication to community involvement and inclusivity. Federal
    investments should not just seek a return-on-investment in enabling safe operations, but also in
    how investments promote healthier, livable, and sustainable communities. These investments
    should not be viewed merely as costs, but as pivotal contributions to building stronger, more
    resilient communities, and ultimately a more resilient nation. By aligning AAM development
    with broader goals of community resilience, we can ensure that economic investments in this
    sector yield dividends that extend far beyond the industry itself, fortifying communities against
    a range of future challenges.
    This document is intended to be freely accessible and open to the public. Readers are encouraged
    to share and distribute this work. While this document is provided as open access, the author
    kindly requests that proper attribution be given when citing or referencing this work.
    Harper, Clint. (2023). Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) as a Foundation of Community
    Resiliency: A Visionary Response to the USDOT Request for Information on AAM
    Integration. Unpublished manuscript.