Aug. 7, 2020

The emergence of advanced air mobility (AAM) isn’t just poised to revolutionize the way people and cargo move across the world’s airspace. It also brings the potential to expand the aviation workforce with thousands of people bringing modern skill sets in areas such as robotics, software engineering and digital marketing. 

The opportunity to generate an influx of talented new aviation workers through AAM technologies such as electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) was a key takeaway from the Aug. 6 Leadership Council Briefing, “Emerging Technology & Innovation,” which also explored utilization opportunities and current regulatory hurdles. 

Panelists included:

  • Moderator Heidi Williams, NBAA’s director, air traffic services and infrastructure 
  • Ray Adams, executive director, ULTRA (Urban Low Altitude Transport Association)
  • Michelle Dina, director of education and client relations, Unmanned Safety Institute
  • Kate Fraser, safety lead, Joby Aviation
  • Stéphane Fymat, vice president and general manager, unmanned aerial systems and urban air mobility, Honeywell Aerospace
  • Jonathan Hartman, disruptive technologies lead, Sikorsky Aircraft 
  • Kaydon Stanzione, CEO, Jaunt Air Mobility

“If [AAM products currently in development] are able to launch on the intended scale, we will need thousands of pilots, technicians, engineers, software engineers and dispatchers,” said Fraser. “This will have the effect of really broadening the industry.”

Fraser added that the next-generation technology driving the push toward AAM, which ranges from unmanned systems to eVTOL aircraft, will demand creativity as the industry both recruits new talent and helps existing personnel evolve their skills through professional development.

What does it mean to be an A&P technician working on electric propulsion aircraft? Not just at the university level, but in flight and maintenance training? How do we incorporate UAS traffic management?” she asked. “It’s something for all of us to look forward to and keep investing in.”

Fymat noted that an AAM space “ripe with opportunities for innovation” presents a golden opportunity for the industry to recruit top-tier engineering talent, especially in fast-growing fields like robotics. The wide variety of technical opportunities are not just limited to college graduates; Dina advised that working with lineman programs, career and technical education programs, and technical/community colleges will pay dividends in producing the many workers needed to manage substantial electrical infrastructure demands.

“The college track may not be for everyone, but there’s huge opportunity within the high-voltage electrical line side to contribute to the emerging eVOTL society,” Adams added. 

Noting that safety, functionality and cost are rightfully the focus of current AAM development efforts, Stanzione added that the industry will also need talented personnel to create designs, marketing and community engagement that will help facilitate buy-in from the public.

We should think about adding the ‘A’ for arts to go from STEM to STEAM,” he said. 

Ultimately, said Hartman, the need for personnel with a wide range of new and existing skill sets will organically arise from a need to “make sure we’re delivering safety, reliability and economics.” 

NBAA’s Leadership Council supports the association’s mission to promote an environment that fosters business aviation in the U.S. and around the world. Learn more about the NBAA Leadership Council.