VFS Applauds Passage of AAM Leadership Act

VFS Applauds Passage of AAM Leadership Act

On Oct. 17, President Biden signed into law the Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act. The bipartisan legislation, Senate Bill S.516, directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish an interagency working group to identify the elements needed to mature the advanced air mobility (AAM) industry. The new law represents a milestone in the federal government’s efforts to act on emerging AAM concepts and technologies such as electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. 

The new law requires the working group to complete its review and submit a report on the steps ahead within one year. The report should detail a variety of elements to further AAM in the US, including the needed regulatory and operational frameworks, relevant federal programs, and the interests and roles of federal, state, local and tribal governments affected by AAM operations, among other areas. This report should form the basis of an AAM National Strategy, which will include recommendations for actions to support AAM. 

The law is the product of more than a year of work on AAM legislation. Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) introduced the bill on March 1, 2021, shortly after a similar bill — H.R.1339 — was introduced in the US House of Representatives (see “Washington Report: AAM Support in Congress,” Vertiflite, May/June 2021). The House version was introduced by Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kansas), and included a bipartisan group of cosponsors. 

Though virtually identical, the two draft bills contained minor technical and wording differences — the House version specified that the Undersecretary of Transportation for Policy would chair the working group, a requirement that the Senate adopted in its final version of the bill. The Senate version, meanwhile, emphasized that the report should form the basis of an “AAM National Strategy,” which was likewise included in the final version. 

The House passed its version of the bill in November 2021. The Senate version passed out of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Dec. 17, 2021. It passed the full Senate on March 23, 2022, before receiving support in a House vote on June 14. In September, the Senate and House resolved the differences between the two bills. 

“This is a fantastic step forward. AAM had very little visibility in Congress before this bill was first introduced 20 months ago,” said Mike Hirschberg, VFS Executive Director. “This legislation follows the work of members of the Air Mobility Council, an informal coordinating body between a dozen membership associations supporting AAM.” Originally named the Urban Air Mobility Coordinating Council, the group was founded by VFS in September 2019 and collectively signed a letter to the Trump Administration supporting eVTOL research and development priorities (see “Washington Report: VFS Leads eVTOL Coordination,” Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2020). 

“VFS and our members identified the ignorance of AAM across much of the federal government and the lack of cross-agency coordination as key deficiencies three years ago,” said Hirschberg. “Working together, our corporate members and sister organizations have made this a growing priority in both the executive and legislative branches of the US federal government.”

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and Helicopter Association International (HAI), also released statements praising the new law.

Since VFS began supporting the “Electric VTOL Revolution” in 2013, the Society has been the leading voice for the eVTOL community in industry, academia and government. VFS hosted the world’s first eVTOL technical meeting in 2014, launched the world’s first eVTOL eNewsletter in 2016, world’s first dedicated eVTOL website in 2017, the world’s first eVTOL short course in 2018, and North America’s first hydrogen aviation symposium in March 2022. 

In January, VFS is holding its 10th Annual Electric VTOL Symposium, the largest and longest-running eVTOL event in the world. More than 500 attendees are expected for the hybrid virtual/in-person event in Mesa, Arizona, USA.

Posted Oct. 21, 2022