Harmonisation of standards key to UAM growth, says FAA director

US regulator says setting a global standards will be key to unlocking benefits of new market and outlines the United States’ “operations first” approach

Harmonisation of international standards will hold the key to unlocking the economic potential of the emerging urban air market, according to FAA director Jay Merkle. 

Merkle said working with other regulatory bodies across the globe would be crucial, both for safety and to maximise the wider societal benefits of electric flight.

“International harmonisation of the standards is absolutely fundamental,” he said, “Not just to safety and to the to the safe integration into the airspace, but also to economic and societal possibilities.”

“An industry which would be fragmented in building to one set of standards in one part of the world than another would really, really hamper the worldwide objectives, meaning the safe integration and really unlocking the economical potential.”

US uses “operations first” approach

While other global countries such as Rwanda, Ghana China, Dubai and Singapore appeared to be racing ahead with their regulatory frameworks, Merkle said the US was taking a different approach.

“In the US, we have decided to not do regulations first, we’ve decided to move on operations first. We are using our existing regulatory framework and finding ways to enable flights and missions within that framework and using the data coming out of that to point us in the direction of where do I need to adjust the framework.”

“Ultimately, we will all have to come to the same set of standards, but remember there are many Different missions and unmanned aircraft system and urban air mobility. Like aviation in general, it’s not all one airplane, it’s not all one mission” 

Merkle said he was be “really excited” with the arrival of urban air mobility into towns and cities. He added: “I have the same confidence in urban air mobility that we’ll get there that I have getting in an airplane getting from Washington to London.


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