Urban Air Mobility implementation may be a major global UAS competition advantage
EU releases major study of its citizens’ acceptance of this new economy
Conceptual, non-experiential, single event survey
Aviation Noise is subject to misophonia, making the study of little predictive value
The world is accelerating to an economy heavily involved with Urban Air Mobility (UAM). The electric take-off-and-landing vehicles(EVTOL) will be incorporated in the marketplace, particularly the distribution system. A well-designed UAM system will require major orders of UASs and/or EVTOLs. The global industrial goal is to become the primary source for these innovative aircraft.
The EU recently released a study which is touted as a key tool for EASA’s design of the UAM rules.
In a hypercompetitive global economy, it is not unexpected, but perhaps disappointing, to have a safety organization to tout its market share. In furtherance of its position ahead in the UAM race, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) commissioned a Study on the societal acceptance of Urban Air Mobility in Europe. An impressive academic survey of a perfectly designed demographic sample produced positive reactions to UAM.
What real value will these numbers provide to EASA in designing the UAM of the future?
Questions were posed to the EU citizens about their attitudes towards the new technology, such as these conjoint questions:
Great data for some PhD thesis; maybe somewhat telling for a Eurocrat to start writing EASA UAM policies/rules; perhaps it greatest value was in selling the respondents on this new disruptive technology.
Not really a tremendously accurate test of the future response of citizens to these vehicles. Conceptually, the idea of faster, convenient, safer, etc., etc.,etc. UAM is easily accepted by the respondents. The study did not provide hard noise or annoyance examples to measure the acceptability of this future system. Even a simulation of a single event of an UAS flying over a citizen is not a relevant test. Perception of noise today is highly influenced by repetition.
As contemporary experience, as to quieter aircraft flying over today’s citizens, has NOT been as positive as the objective, engineering-based data predicted. For example—
There is clearly a rising expectation of communities for lower noise levels. Though objective, engineering data shows that the exposure has been reduced as this FAA quote indicates:
“In 1975, there were about 200 million people flying in the United States, with about 7 million people exposed to what is considered significant aircraft noise. Since then, an FAA study conducted in 2015 showed that the number of people flying in the United States had almost quadrupled, yet the number of people exposed to aircraft noise had dropped to around 340,000, or a 94% reduction in aircraft noise exposure. “
The intense anger of local groups signals a strong political movement which does not give much credibility to the existing accepted noise numbers.
The science of human response to noise is denominated “psychoacoustics” :
…While this discrepancy between measured and perceived noise may be frustration, perception is a reality with which must be dealt in public policy debates.
This phenomenon has been exacerbated by recent scientific discoveries, which may have identified some correlation between certain sounds and “noise rage.” The phenomenon is called misophonia literally “hatred of sound.”
In 2000 scientists defined misophonia as a “condition in which negative emotions, thoughts, and physical reactions are triggered by specific sounds.” Other labels include “select sound sensitivity syndrome” and “sound-rage”..
No survey methodology can recreate the factors which have revealed misophonia. For example, if a pizza-delivery UAS operator established a flight pattern by a high rise luxury condominium, can the EU rely on the methodology of its Study on the societal acceptance of Urban Air Mobility in Europe? A finding that “83% of respondents have a positive initial attitude towards UAM, with 71% ready to try out UAM services” based on a study has little predictive value that these flights will be welcomed?
Trailing organizations, the FAA and NASA, too, are taking steps to prepare for UAM. They are collaborating on an Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign. In June 2020, FAA developed and shared the UAM Concept of Operations (ConOps) version 1.0 with both internal and external stakeholders (PDF). Those are very concrete efforts to prepare the way of this new economy. NASA, whose mission is more research oriented than the safety agency, has initiated a vigorous research program.
19 May 2021
COLOGNE, May 19, 2021 – The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published results of the first study conducted in the European Union on Urban Air Mobility, showing that the majority of those questioned broadly welcome the prospect of services such as air taxis, air ambulances and drone deliveries but have concerns about potential issues such as safety, security, noise and the impact on wildlife.
Urban Air Mobility is a new air transportation system for passengers and cargo in and around urban environments. It is enabled by developments such as the enhancement of battery technologies and electric propulsion for vertical take-off and landing. It is expected to be deployed in Europe within three to five years, offering the potential to make urban mobility faster and greener.
“As a result of this study, for the first time, EASA and the EU have insights into what the general public in Europe thinks about this entirely new development in the field of aviation,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. “For EASA as a regulator this information is crucial. It will allow us to set up the rules and regulations for this area in a way that is aligned with the expectations and perceptions of citizens.”
The comprehensive study was based on targeted research, a literature review, market analysis, surveys and interviews. The on-line quantitative survey polled 4,000 citizens in six European urban areas. This was complemented by more than 40 qualitative interviews, as well as a noise simulation test.
The cities chosen for the online survey were Barcelona, Budapest, Hamburg, Milan, Öresund (Danish-Swedish cross-border area) and Paris, with a minimum of 600 people from each location invited to respond. These cities were selected via a standard market analysis and the survey recipients selected to be representative of a cross-section of the local population of each city.
“The fact that the results were homogeneous across the various cities is a good starting point, given that we are looking to create a single regulatory playing field at EU level,” Ky said.
The survey showed that 83% of respondents have a positive initial attitude towards UAM, with 71% ready to try out UAM services. Cases in the common interest, such in emergencies or for medical transportation received strong support.
More details on the study and its results, including a breakdown of the results per city and an overview of the top findings can be found on the EASA website (www.easa.europa.eu/UAM).
EASA will use the study results to prepare an impact assessment and regulatory proposal for Urban Air Mobility in Europe in 2022.
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