An Initial Assessment of the Potential Weather Barriers of Urban Air Mobility


Urban Air Mobility (UAM), a subset of advanced air   mobility, is   a   concept that   envisions safe, sustainable, affordable, and accessible air   transportation   for   passenger mobility, cargo delivery, and emergency management within or traversing a metropolitan area. In recent years, several companies have designed and tested enabling elements of this concept, including; prototypes of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, operational concepts, and market studies to understand potential business models.  While UAM may be enabled by the convergence of several factors, a number of barriers such as weather could present challenges to scaling operations. This research discusses the potential weather and public acceptance challenges   for   operations   in   adverse conditions. This   paper presents a   comprehensive   seasonal   and   diurnal   climatology analysis using historical    observations    across    anticipated operational altitudes (surface –5000 ft AGL) at ten metropolitan areas across the United States for the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD).  Public perceptions of weather-related societal barriers were evaluated through a five-city general population survey (n=1,702) where respondents were asked about their views regarding flying in a small aircraft in a variety of adverse weather conditions using a six statement 5-point Likert scale. The results of the climatology analysis found weather most favorable in Los Angeles and San Francisco, with much less favorable conditions in Denver, New York City, and Washington D.C. In the future, equipping automated vehicles, unmanned aircraft systems, and VTOLs with meteorological sensors coupled with machine learning and artificial intelligence could enhance predictive capabilities that reduce flight cancellations and delays for travelers.

Colleen Reiche, PhD, Adam Cohen, Chris Fernando
Publication date: 
September 1, 2021
Publication type: 
Journal Article
C. Reiche, A. P. Cohen and C. Fernando, "An Initial Assessment of the Potential Weather Barriers of Urban Air Mobility," in IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, doi: 10.1109/TITS.2020.3048364.