09 April 2022
Advanced Air Mobility: a challenge for the future
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The commitment of the three aerospace clusters of Lombardy, Piedmont and Campania to collaborate to share know-how for the development of Advanced Air Mobility. Angelo Vallerani, President of the Lombardia Aerospace Cluster: “In the Lombardy aerospace industry there is the availability of all the technology and skills necessary to create new systems capable of decongesting the road arteries.

“In the Lombardy aerospace industry there is the availability of all the technology and skills necessary to create new systems capable, thanks to vertical flight, of decongesting the road arteries through more sustainable mobility with the use of helicopters, tiltrotors, drones and unmanned vehicles. The commitment of the production system on this front is maximum”: this was the message of Angelo Vallerani , President of the Lombardy Aerospace Cluster , during the round table ” Advanced Air Mobility: a challenge for the future “. The setting is that of the A&T, Automation & Testing Fair in Turin, dedicated to innovation, technologies, reliability and 4.0 skills.

The Piedmont Aerospace District , the Campania Aerospace Technological District and Leonardo Spa also took part in the event, organized and strongly supported by the Lombardy Aerospace Cluster, with testimonies and best practices .

“We have been carrying out this project for over a year – continues Vallerani – and the 2026 appointment with the Winter Olympics in Milan Cortina represents our testing ground. We have a very specific date to refer to, which allows us to evaluate in time which technologies are already available that we can develop for the event and, why not, to anticipate some aspects of the mobility of the future”. Significant, in this context, is the signing, a few weeks ago, of the Memorandum of Understanding between Enac, the National Civil Aviation Authority and the Lombardy Region , for the implementation of joint activities in favor of the development of Advanced Air Mobility. “Thanks to this agreement, for example, the use of the convertiplane developed by Leonardo, which combines the vertical take-off versatility of the helicopter with the comfort and speed of the airplane, will be strengthened for medium-long distances. A nice change if you consider that to go from Milan to Cortina it usually takes 5 hours by car, an hour by helicopter and less than half an hour by tiltrotor”, explains the President of the Lombard Aerospace Cluster.   

Another project under development is a system of drones for the transport of goods on safe dedicated routes, useful for decongesting traffic on roads, particularly mountain roads if you think of Cortina. And looking at Urban Air Mobility, there is the possibility of experimenting with the use of evtol (electric vertical take off landing) , electric vertical take-off aircraft with very reduced environmental impact, reaching both urban centers and Olympic locations in a more rapid and with almost no impact on the environment. “In this context, the 2026 Olympic event represents an intermediate step, also to reconvert companies to new technologies and prepare ourselves for a future in which mobility will no longer be what we are used to today”, urges Vallerani.

The international technological scenario

Tracing the boundaries of the international technological scenario regarding the increasingly massive use of AAM technologies are Giuseppe Quaranta , Professor of the Polytechnic of Milan and Giorgio Guglieri , Professor of the Polytechnic of Turin . “Advanced Air Mobility is a new mode of safe and sustainable air transport for passengers and cargo. Its declination, in an urban context, involves the use of vertical take-off and landing aircraft with electric motors. Initially they will be aircraft with a pilot on board, but in the future we may move towards remotely piloted or autonomous systems. The use of AAM in urban areas concerns passenger and goods transport, emergency services, surveillance, signal transmission and aerial work”, explains Quaranta, adding however that there are still many challenges to overcome, including the perception that people have of these technologies. “From a study by Easa, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, it was understood that 83% of European citizens have a positive attitude towards AMM, but safety and accessibility persist among the elements of apprehension: the acceptability of this type of service risks being reduced if reserved for a small portion of the population”.

“The benefits expected from the use of these new technologies – says Guglieri – are varied: the improvement of response times in emergency situations, the reduction of traffic in urban areas and emissions, as well as the creation of new jobs. The main technical challenges that await us concern batteries (the most efficient ones on the market today are capable of supporting flights of no more than 30/40 minutes for aircraft with 2 passengers on board), airspace management, training of pilots, autonomy and economic feasibility”.

The Italian Roadmap

Carmela Tripaldi , R&D New Technologies and Advanced Director Italian Civil Aviation of Enac , who identified the need to promote a strategy for the creation of the national ecosystem for Advanced Air Mobility, provides clarification on the Italian Roadmap to be followed and implemented in the coming years. . “Make available to the country a model of urban, integrated and intermodal air mobility, capable of providing advanced services to citizens, businesses and institutions and providing responses to the needs of territorial systems in the framework of the digital and ecological transition, positioning itself as a reference in the international context and accelerate the growth of a national industrial and technological fabric, seizing the opportunities offered by the AAM at a global level with the aim of implementing the country’s competitiveness, also through the creation and valorisation of new professionals in the STEM field. These are the objectives of the ‘Creation of the Italian Ecosystem for Advanced Air Mobility’ project , which will soon start after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Enac and the Ministry for Technological Innovation and Digital Transition, which took place in December 2019″ , Tripaldi explained.

At the end of the round table, the clear desire emerged of the three aerospace clusters of Lombardy, Campania and Piedmont to collaborate with the aim of pooling know-how and skills with a view to implementing, at a national level, the technologies already existing in the field of Advanced Air Mobility. With the aim of accelerating the development of large-scale Advanced Air Mobility as much as possible . “Many initiatives were born at district level: the purpose of this agreement between territories is to ensure that the activities that we are going to develop from here on are implemented with the greatest possible collaboration and synchrony, to ensure that at a national level we is an undoubted benefit. The scenario is international: creating a country system is necessary”, concludes Angelo Vallerani.