Airbus today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore to enable Urban Air Mobility in the island city-state. As part of the agreement, Airbus and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) will collaborate to define and develop an initial Urban Air Mobility (UAM) service with an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). This includes developing an Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system and services to support the initial use-case.
Airbus and CAAS will also co-operate on building public acceptance for UAM, developing standards, and establishing necessary safety framework, as well as developing further UAM services for cargo and passenger transportation.
The first UAM-related collaboration between Airbus and CAAS was established in 2016 for UAS proof-of-concept trials, known as Skyways. Airbus and CAAS subsequently signed an agreement with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency to share and advance the development of operational and safety standards for UAS in urban environments.
Airbus explains Skyways started as an experimental project aimed at developing safe unmanned air delivery systems for use in dense urban environments. The proof-of-concept trials for Skyways were completed in 2019 with the delivery of parcels in the campus of the National University of Singapore, and deliveries of 3D-printed parts and consumables to vessels anchored at Singapore’s Eastern Working Anchorage. A world-first initiative, trials of the Skyways parcel drone involved delivering payloads of up to 4 kg to vessels as far as 3 km from the coast.
The Skyways UAS will now be used as what Airbus describes as a flying lab to continue testing technologies and concepts, focusing initially on UTM connectivity and navigation. Airbus states UTM is a key enabler for its vision for urban mobility – paving the way for digital traffic management solutions and allowing new aircraft, such as air taxis and UAS, to safely enter and share the skies.
“[UAM] fits within our Smart Nation vision, where we aim to take full advantage of technology to solve problems, address challenges, and develop Singapore into one of the most outstanding cities in the world to live in,” said Kevin Shum, director-general of CAAS, who signed the new UAM agreement with Jean-Brice Dumont, EVP of Engineering for Airbus, at the 2020 Singapore Airshow on February 12.
“That is why we seek to collaborate with businesses to push the boundaries of their applications,” continued Shum. “Such collaborations, including our longstanding CAAS-Airbus partnership, build Singapore’s capabilities and expertise to enable advanced UA applications, particularly in our urban environment.”