AIA at CES – Roundtable to Revolutionize Transportation

For the first time ever, the Aerospace Industries Association took part in this year’s Consumer Electronics Shows (CES). This major gathering of technology companies and experts provided the perfect forum for not only our members to show off their incredible innovations, but also for AIA to bring together key U.S. leaders and discuss the future of technology. That’s why, in partnership with the Consumer Technology Association, AIA co-hosted an Urban Air Mobility (UAM) roundtable discussion.

The AIA-CTA roundtable featured a number of top U.S. leaders in this area, including Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Bob Pearce, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and Los Angeles Department of Transportation General Manager Seleta Reynolds, as well as a number of representatives from AIA members, including EmbraerX, Bell Flight, Uber Elevate, Deloitte, and Boeing.

The candid discussion focused on exploring both the short-term needs from industry and government to realize the vision of UAM and the big picture obstacles to making UAM part of people’s daily lives. Through the substantive discussion, three main themes were clear:

  1. Can’t just focus on the vehicle: For UAM to be successful long-term, we must look at physical infrastructure (vertiports), digital infrastructure (traffic management solutions, cybersecurity, etc.), the airspace integration path for the technology, and establishing a robust supply chain. The vehicle is important, but if the rest of the pieces of the ecosystem are not developing at the same rate, it will drastically limit the technology’s ability to become widespread.

  2. Must include all actors in the discussion: It is essential to ensure ongoing dialogues with diverse participants from industry, all levels of government, infrastructure companies, urban planners, and others. These conversations will be vital to achieving regulatory approvals, attracting investment, building a supply chain, attracting early users, addressing safety and environmental concerns, and garnering broad public acceptance.

  3. We need a patient approach by both industry and regulators: While the technology is receiving a lot of attention now, it is still years away from operating and even further away from operating across the country. UAM has the ability to transform how people live and work, but it will only be able to do so if early trials are profitable enough based on the right regulatory environment, adequate testing, and data analysis. Innovation must occur not only within industry, but also within regulation and governance.

This was one of the first conversations of its kind to bring together federal and local government, industry, and academics leaders, and AIA will ensure it won’t be the last. Together, we can lay the groundwork today to revolutionize transportation tomorrow.