Boeing and its joint venture partner Wisk have released a roadmap for a future where automated and uncrewed aircraft can safely carry passengers and cargo in urban and suburban areas.

The concept of operations lays out the technology, regulatory and social recommendations needed to deploy Urban Air Mobility (UAM) in the US and integrate it into the national airspace system.

Boeing vice president and chief engineer Brian Yutko said: “We are working to enable a future for aerospace that is safe, sustainable and at scale. Uncrewed operations will be fundamental to realising that vision, and we have to exceed the current safety standards for the air transportation system.”

The concept of operations begins by proposing bedrock principles for urban air mobility, including flights that should be safe and affordable for everyone. Additionally, the aircraft would be automated to reduce the load on air traffic controllers and pilots, and they would fly day or night under visual or instrument flight rules, and be supported by automated onboard and ground-based systems.

Wisk CEO Gary Gysin said: “The important work we are sharing today provides a stepping stone in the advancement of UAM in the US and the world, and the vision we have outlined is the result of many years of collaboration with Boeing, the FAA, NASA and key industry stakeholders.

“As a result, this document offers the most comprehensive framework proposed to date with a vision for enabling UAM in the national airspace. Wisk is committed to deliver on this vision with its partners.”

Boeing and Wisk say that evolutionary and pragmatic methods will be needed to make the vision of UAM a reality, including new infrastructure such as vertiports where UAM aircraft can take off and land, load and unload passengers, and receive services.

Additionally, while the aircraft will be automated, Boeing and Wisk recommend the creation of fleet operations centres where multi-vehicle supervisors will monitor flights, implement air traffic control instructions to maintain aircraft separation, and ensure safe operation of the flight.

Yutko concluded: “The work we have done with our partners at Wisk demonstrates how this shared vision can become reality, and we are excited to share these ConOps with public, government, policy and regulatory stakeholders to engage across industry to shape that future.”

In January, Wisk secured $450 million in funding from The Boeing Company to reinforce its position and advance the progress of its sixth generation eVTOL aircraft.

In June 2020, Wisk appointed Dr Pete Kunz, Chief Technologist for Boeing NeXt and Boeing’s Senior Chief Engineer for Unpiloted Systems, to its board.