UAM: “Airspace is free, now we have to conquer it

Manfred Hader of Roland Berger explains how urban air mobility will solve some of the challenges of congestion in cities - and how the MRO industry will adapt to the needs of the emerging market

Congestion of cities is set to become an even bigger issue in the future, with urban air mobility forming part of the solution. 

That’s the view of Manfred Hader, Senior Partner of global consulting firm Roland Berger, who was presenting at a session entitled ‘Urban Air Mobility – the next big thing’ at MRO Europe 2019.

Hader explained: “What is for sure is that urban air mobility is a real solution to a problem that we are seeing today already and that will become a much bigger problem in the future, which is the congestion of cities. The airspace is free, so now we have to conquer it.”

Although there were no dominant designs and the industry was still working on the viability of different aircraft through trial and error, Hader had the confidence that the MRO sector was market ready and those within it would be able to transfer their skills.

Commercial UAM operations by 2025

He said: “The expectations are fairly clear by now. We think there will be commercial services flying as early as 2025, or even before that. In the beginning they will be piloted, by 2030 or 2035 latest, we will also see autonomous flight.”

Hader explained that UAM aircraft would be like all fixed wing and rotary aircraft, in that they would be subject to certification processes before being able to fly. He said: “What they will need to work on, is the new type of parts there’s electric propulsion, there’s batteries, the things that they are not used to, so they will have to build up skills there.”

He added that MRO would play a vital part within the industry, from the emergence of the first aircraft: “The key question today is what will be a viable business case in the future? It’s not only about building the aircraft, its really about operating the aircraft. Obviously MRO is an essential part of that so expect the manufacturers to take a big chunk of the cake at the beginning.”

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