During the opening of the EASA High Level Conference, Henrik Holololei, Director-General for Mobility and Transport, European Commission shared his thoughts on the next steps for our industry in addressing and implementing new air mobility technology.

We need to maintain a very delicate balance between safety and speed to market. In doing this, a general enabling framework should be created to address all constituencies. As we move towards a world with 70% of the population residing in cities, the need for Urban Air Mobility increases. But this doesn’t mean that it will completely disrupt mobility as there will need to be a balance between traditional mobility solutions and new market entrants to meet the different needs of all users.

Innovative air mobility (IAM) needs to use a risk-based approach to deployment. By 2030, the transport of people and goods will be possible with these new air vehicles. We need to test and integrate autonomous air mobility including manned and unmanned aircraft to ensure general acceptance. EASA regulation will address parcel delivery, air taxis with pilots and larger cargo delivery vehicles. There will be an online platform for data sharing integrated with innovative air mobility hubs. “Europe will be an attractive location for IAM startups and investment.” The market is expected to be worth €14.5 bn by 2030. This represents 123% annual growth and the addition of 145,000 new jobs.

We shouldn’t overlook the challenges that come with the growth of IAM. It needs to be tested in different modes of flight in real-life situations. Civil/military integration requires coordinated testing as both sets of organisations could use these aircraft. The European Commission will set up new centres for testing and there will be a voluntary European trusted drone label introduced. Two additional topics to consider are the potential need for spectrum allocation in support of communications for these aircraft and the importance of cybersecurity.

There’s a lot to think about and this speech set the tone for much of the discussion to follow during the three days of the event.