Development of new air vehicles (e.g., personal air vehicles, urban air taxis, etc.) have led to a proliferation of Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) vehicle concepts including electric vehicles, many of which are well-funded and are in various stages of prototype development and test. The large number of vehicles that are being designed to ferry passengers in dense urban environments will almost exclusively feature fly-by-wire flight control systems that may have advanced response-types. The processes and requirements needed to certify these disparate vehicles for operation within the National Airspace System are still emerging. To aid in the requirements and certification process, Systems Technology, Inc. (STI), under sponsorship by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is employing a mission-oriented approach to define and assess Mission Task Elements (MTEs) that will provide a flight test certification Means of Compliance (MOC). To minimize the need for physical courses that are standard with MTE evaluations, adapt to the changing regulatory environment, and streamline the testing process, a team led by STI has developed and demonstrated the Means of Compliance Requirements for UAM Evaluations and Ratings (MCRUER) system, a novel tablet-based cockpit display and sensor system, that provides the UAM test pilot evaluator virtual MTE courses against which to assess the vehicle. The on-screen display elements is driven by the actual vehicle’s motion in flight. This system is intended to support the MTE-based means of compliance for Part 23 eVTOL certification activities. Such a device will benefit the NASA AAM National Campaign as well as eVTOL flight test evaluations conducted by the manufacturers and FAA Aircraft Certification Offices. At the conclusion of the Phase II program, a prototype version of the complete MCRUER system will be available to the certification authorities and UAM manufactures to aid in their test and certification activities.
The MCRUER system supports NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign intent to provide “…vehicle manufacturers and operators, as well as prospective airspace service providers, insights into the evolving regulatory and operational environment.” In this application, the MCRUER system will provide a means to easily and repeatedly perform MTE evaluations as part of AAM flight test activities. This will standardize these evaluations and maintain clarity in the lessons learned without the need to caveat the experiences due to test differences.
According to HTF Market Intelligence, the estimated UAM market size will be $15.2 billion by 2030. With over 350 unique and unusual designs in development per eVTOL News, there is clearly a need for new test and certification methodologies. STI’s existing relationships with established and emerging UAM companies will be leveraged to define our initial customer base and introduce the MCRUER system.