eVTOL Defining Challenges Workshop

Workshop on eVTOL Defining Challenges for Urban Air Mobility:
System Safety, Infrastructure and Airspace Management

Navy Memorial Visitor Center
701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC  20004-2608
Sept. 10-12, 2019 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Register today! Early bird deadline: August 30, 2019.

Thank you to our sponsors!
Gannett Fleming logo (400 px) png NEXA UAM Logo

Gannett Flemming Skyport conceptThe Vertical Flight Society is hosting its first workshop on the defining challenges of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, planned for Sept. 10-12, 2019, at the US Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. The three-day workshop will be dedicated to begin identifying and developing the foundational standards needed to support this growing eVTOL industry. Importantly, this workshop will review what key organizations are working on and look for gaps and overlaps in developments to ensure a successful realization of urban air mobility (UAM).

The Vertical Flight Society, founded in 1943 as the American Helicopter Society, is the world's leading professional organization working to advance vertical flight. VFS has been a leading advocate and supporter of what we call The Electric VTOL Revolution. We held the world's eVTOL technical meeting in 2014 and our 7th Annual eVTOL Symposium is planned for Jan. 2020 in Silicon Valley; we now have 100+ hours of informative and education videos on electric VTOL. Since 2017, VFS has hosted the newsletter and website, The Electric VTOL News.

Our annual eVTOL Workshops/Symposiums initiated a series of four Transformative Vertical Flight Working Groups, supported by NASA, that are focused on developing an advocacy roadmap needed to generate support for eVTOL/UAM transportation systems, technology, and markets. Those working groups have been successful, and the time has come to look at the defining challenges that must be overcome to achieve the Electric VTOL Revolution most efficiently. This workshop is the first step towards that goal.

The extent to which new urban air mobility systems will be accepted by society will be paced by both the actual and perceived safety of the systems. The journey to fleet safety encompasses several areas, from aircraft design through operational and airspace considerations. Through three days of moderated, interactive discussion, the Vertical Flight Society invites stakeholders in all aspects of the emerging Urban Air Mobility (UAM) ecosystem (investors, academia, manufacturers, operators, government, regulatory and policy makers) to participate in defining current and future areas for public/private collaboration.

The Urban Air Mobility revolution has begun with over 160 vehicles in various level of concept, design, prototype, and test. However, before any of them can be used for their intended purposes, the infrastructure must be in place to facilitate and support their operations. Throughout the first day, the stakeholders will be led through a number of different activities to highlight the current infrastructure in place, and determine the state of the required infrastructure to support the UAM ecosystem, including federal, state, and local regulations, building codes, and industry standards. This session will set the stage for the next two days that will include air traffic management, noise mitigation, and vehicle system safety.


  • Create common understanding of risk-based frameworks and system safety practices.
  • Identify frameworks for understanding infrastructure development risks, and identify current gaps in industry best practice data for new technologies enabling UAM concepts
  • Connect risk assessment frameworks through infrastructure design to operational considerations
  • Build upon existing heliport safety data, Air Traffic Management (ATM) practices, and existing rotorcraft safety data to identify pre-competitive areas where proactive industry collaboration could be valuable in accelerating UAM adoption


  • Create list of fundamental, pre-competitive research topics or projects that could be undertaken by stakeholders to assist in closing these gaps
  • Build upon existing safety data to identify pre-competitive areas where proactive industry collaboration could be valuable in accelerating UAM adoption


  • Rex Alexander, 5-Alpha
  • John Koelling, NASA
  • Misty Davis, NASA
  • Jonathan Hartman, Sikorsky
  • Ajay Sehgal, KBR
  • Dan Newman, Boeing
  • Anubhav Datta, University of Maryland

Agenda: Download the Preliminary Agenda (PDF)

Day 1 (Tues, Sept. 10): Infrastructure

(0700 - 0800)      Registration Opens

(0800 - 0900)      Welcome and Introductions

                            Mike Hirschberg, Vertical Flight Society (confirmed)

   TBA, FAA (invited)

(0900 - 1000)      Today's Heliports - baseline

What is the current state of heliports today? We will review the building requirements, certification and operation of heliports/pads in today’s environment.  This will be the baseline that we will build on to set the standards for vertiport design for UAM.

                           Rex Alexander, Vertical Flight Society (confirmed)

(1000 - 1030)      Networking Break

(1030 - 1200)      Vertiports Design Requirements

What are the baseline requirement for Vertiports?  We will examine the standards, codes, and policy requirements to ensure these new structures will meet the needs for the safe operations of Urban Air Mobility.

(1030 - 1100)      Local Policy Consideration for Vertiports

   Anna Dietrich, AMD Consulting (confirmed)

   Yolanka Wulff, CAMI (confirmed)

(1100 - 1130)      eVTOL Ground Infrastructure Standardization and Interoperability

   Arturo Garcia-Alonso, Airport Intelligence (confirmed)

(1130 - 1200)      Vertiport Building Code

   Robert Davidson, Davidson Code Concepts (confirmed)

(1200 - 1330)      Lunch

(1330 - 1500)      Vertiport Performance

As the Vertiport landscape develops, the operational aspects of the facilities will require some very out-of-the-ordinary infrastructure to be effective.  Clear lines of sight for approach/departure, fire protection systems for both aviation fuel and high-density batteries, a significant amount of electrical power, security screening facilities, evacuation routes, and, for some facilities, maintenance and repair facilties.

(1330 - 1350)      Urban Air Mobility - Economics and Global Market Study

   Michael Dyment, NEXA Advisors (confirmed)

(1350 - 1410)      Vertiport Electrical Requirements

   Teresa Peterson, Gannett Fleming (confirmed)

(1410 - 1430)      tba

   Jamare Bates, Black & Veatch (invited)

(1430 - 1450)      Uber's Perspectives of Infrastructure

   Mark Moore, Uber Elevate (confirmed)

(1500 - 1530)      Networking Break

(1530 - 1700)      Operations

Safe operation is an aviation hallmark.  This session will explore issues that are outside of the system, such as non-tracked traffic hazards, localized weather, and communicating these hazards to the rest of the traffic in the system.

(1530 - 1600)      Operations Safety - Automating Hazard Detection, Assessment and Mitigation

   Nikunj Oza, NASA (confirmed)

(1600 - 1620)      Weather operations

   Colleen Reiche, Booz Allen Hamilton (confirmed)

(1620 - 1640)      Micro-climate

   Matthias Steiner, National Center of Atmospheric Research (confirmed)

(1640 - 1700)      GAMA Activities

   Christine De Jong, GAMA (confirmed)

Day 2 (Wednesday, September 11): Air Traffic System Safety / Acoustics

(0700 - 0800)     Registration Opens

(0800 - 0830)      Welcome and Introductions

                            John Koelling, NASA

(0830 - 1000)      Today's Air Traffic Control

How is low elevation air traffic managed today?  What are the current procedures for safe flight in low altitudes, and what improvements can be made today. 

   Chris Baur, Hughes Aerospace (confirmed)

   Jim Ullmann (invited)

(1000 - 1030)      Networking Break

(1030 - 1200)      Defining the Airspace

As the UAM / eVTOL industry will be flying a much lower levels than commercial air traffic, it will need to define a modern air traffic management system.  NASA has commenced the UAM Grand Challenge to encourage new solutions to the anticipated problem.  As there are many aspects to defining the airspace, we will look at safety management, routing, and spacing as part of the overall traffic management system.

(1030 - 1100)      NASA UAM Grand Challenge

   Ken Goodrich, NASA (confirmed)

(1100 - 1130)      In-Time Aviation Safety Management System - What are the Minimum Requirements?

   Tbd, NASA

(1130 - 1200)      Airspace Definition and Flight Path Spacing - UAM, UTM and ATM-x

   Jeff Maddalon, NASA (confirmed)

(1200 - 1330)      Lunch

(1330 - 1500)      eVTOL / UAM Challenges - an Open Panel Discussion

In Defining the Challenges for eVTOL and UAM, we need to look beyond the immediate challenges and understand issues that will enable growth of the industry.  Having a proper traffic management system that incorporates UAM and UAS, and vehicles with effective detect and avoid technology, including beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) detection.  And, ultimately, incorporating automated pilots and autonomy.

Moderator:        Ajay Sehgal, KBR (confirmed)

Panelists:          Anna Dietrich, AMD Consulting (confirmed)

             Phil Kenul, Tri-Vector (confirmed)

             Andy Thurling, NUAIR (confirmed)

Adam Morrison, Streamline Design (invited)

(1500 - 1530)      Networking Break

(1530 - 1700)      Acoustics / Ride Handling

To ensure that the industry effectively attracts users (riders/passengers), common issues with the current industry must be addressed, such as noise mitigation and the uncomfortable passenger compartment.

(1530 - 1550)      Uber's Perspectives on Acoustics

   Mark Moore, Uber Elevate (confirmed)

(1550 - 1610)      eVTOL Noise / Acoustics

   Juliet Page, Volpe (confirmed)

(1610 - 1630)      Ride Handling and Passenger Experience

   George Price, Crowne (confirmed)

(1630 - 1700)      VFS / NASA Transformative Vertical Flight Working Groups Outbriefs

   Johnny Doo, International Vehicle Research, Inc. (confirmed)

Day 3 (Thursday, September 12): Vehicle System Safety & Certification

(0700 - 0800)      Registration Opens

(0830 - 0900)      Welcome and Introductions

   Jonathan Hartman, Sikorsky (confirmed)

(0900 - 1000)      Today's Vehicles - an Intro to Risk Framework

Certification of today's General Aviation and Rotorcraft is a defined process with required artifacts and analyses.

   John Burchett, International System Safety Organization (confirmed)

(1000 - 1030)      Networking Break

(1030 - 1200)      Operational Risks Framework for UAM

Interactive Discussion – Mapping Knowledge Areas to Risk Framework for UAM – What We Know, what we don’t know, unknown unknowns.  We will explore the recent history of air accidents and their causes to identify how we can ways to mitigate them in the design process.  We will also explore weather-related incidents and how they affect the vehicle design.

(1030 - 1115)      2019 Accidents and Causes

   USHST, FAA (invited)

(1115 - 1200)      Icing Conditions and IFR Conditions and other Weather-related Vehicle Operational Risks

   Ajay Sehgal, KBR (confirmed)

   Vladislav Gavrilets, Collins Aerospace (confirmed)

(1200 - 1330)      Lunch

(1330 - 1500)      Air Vehicle Risk Framework

As the eVTOL / UAM industry has received a significant amount of press in the past few years, most of that has been on the actual vehicles - sleek, modern designs that look comfortable and inviting.  In this session, we will explore the safety issues associated with getting the vehicles into operation.

(1330 - 1350)      Uber's perspective

   Mark Moore, Uber Elevate (confirmed)

(1350 - 1410)      Risks for European Certification


(1410 - 1430)      tba


(1430 - 1500)      Cyber-security

   Anuja Sonalker, STEER (confirmed)

(1500 - 1530)      Networking Break

(1530 - 1700)      Interactive Discussion

Addition of Operational Considerations onto Risk Framework and how the various industry associations and societies are working toward achieving the goal of the UAM / eVTOL market introduction.

This session will also summarize the actions that need to be taken and who will be responsible for accomplishing them.

(1530 - 1545)      Actions and Activities of the VFS eVTOL Technical Committee

   Anubhav Datta, University of Maryland / Chair of VFS eVTOL Technical Committee (confirmed)

(1545 - 1600)      ASTM Activities

   Ajay Sehgal, ASTM (confirmed)

(1600 - 1615)      SAE Activities

   Mark DeAngelo, SAE International (confirmed)

(1615 - 1630)      CAMI Activities

   Yolanka Wulff, CAMI (confirmed)

(1630 - 1645)      NBAA Activities

   Mike Nichols, NBAA (confirmed)


Registration and Sponsorships

Registration is now open!

  • US Federal Govt Employees and Speakers: $150
  • VFS Members: $300
  • Non-Members: $400 (includes 1 year of VFS membership). 

Note: since this is a working meeting, members of the press cannot attend. 

We expect this event to sell out. All registration rates will increase by $50 on August 30 if there are still seats left.

There will be a limited number of sponsorships available. Go to the registration page to apply for a sponsorship or to register

  • Gold Sponsorship: $2,500 (Includes logos/signage, flyer, three complimentary registrations and a speaking opportunity. Subject to approval and availability.)
  • Silver Sponsorship: $1,500 (Includes logos/signage, flyer and one complimentary registration. Subject to approval and availability.) 
Our Gold-Level Sponsors
Gannett Fleming logo (400 px) png NEXA UAM Logo


The United States Navy Memorial Visitor Center is a state-of-the-art event and meeting space located in the heart of Washington, DC on Pennsylvania Avenue, half way between the White House and Capitol building and across the street from the National Archives. It is steps from the metro (Archives/Navy Memorial stop) and plenty of parking available.

VFS has not arranged for a hotel block, so attendees are free to choose their lodging.


Please contact Jim Sherman for more information.

Updated Aug 7, 2019