“…Tabletop exercises allow researchers to explore options and test scenarios in fields from military strategy and cybersecurity to disaster response planning. Now, NASA is using tabletop exercises to test how electric air taxis will fit safely into the national airspace – allowing passengers to one day hop across town or to a neighboring city by using new highways in the sky.
To successfully map out this new air transportation system, NASA partnered with industry, academia, and other government agencies in a series of 10 tabletop exercises led by the agency’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign team. Conducted throughout 2022, these expert-led discussions examined potentially unforeseen technical, operational, and regulatory gaps and defined the best use of combined resources to address them. NASA’s AAM mission envisions a revolutionary new air transportation system, and the National Campaign team leads research on the autonomy, infrastructure, and airspace planning that will allow an AAM ecosystem to materialize.
“To test the AAM ecosystem functionally, we can only do bits and pieces at a time right now,” said National Campaign flight engineer Brad Snelling, who leads the project’s tabletop activities. “A big advantage of flight tabletops is we have the ability to think through a whole mission from a holistic standpoint and examine every piece that’s required to make it work. The answers arising from these exercises are what will allow these revolutionary new forms of transportation to operate in the real world.”
These tabletop exercises are unique, as they will bring together a vehicle developer, government researchers, and airspace service providers to address airspace automation concepts. Industry partners participating in these discussions include:
- One vehicle developer: Wisk Aero based in Hollister, California
- Five airspace service providers: Avision of Santa Monica, California; OneSky of Exton, Pennsylvania; SkyGrid of Austin, Texas; ANRA of Chantilly, Virginia; and Collins Aerospace of Charlotte, North Carolina
- Two Command and Control Communications Service Providers: AURA of McLean, Virginia, and Collins Aerospace of Charlotte, North Carolina