AFWERX, NASA to Develop Advanced Air Mobility Digital Operations Center

US Air Force innovation arm AFWERX has teamed with NASA to establish a digital operations center for the Advanced Air Mobility concept.

Advanced Air Mobility is an aerial transport system to bolster special forces, base security, disaster response, and airborne logistics planning across the air force through “emerging aviation technologies.”

The center will incorporate scalable and tactical platforms to verify sensors and systems associated with vertical take-off and landing operations, unmanned aerial systems, and other advanced aviation structures.

The project’s first phase will see need and task evaluations, user observations and interviews, initial integration of baseline technologies, and trials.

The next phase will include safety development, testing of human factors, prototype validation, and live demonstration of the center.

AFWERX and NASA plan to build the digital center with the non-profit aeronautical consulting firm NUAIR at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport, New York. Additional locations will be announced by 2025.

Leveraging Commercialization

Work under this effort will be facilitated under the Civilian Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program (CCRPP), a small business innovation research and technology transfer strategy seeking mission-specific solutions while cultivating interoperability with commercial industry partners.

For the operations center, AFWERX and NASA tapped the Federal Aviation Administration to fill in administrative gaps and other technological capabilities required for the initiative.

“CCRPP is a true example of public-private partnership where government stakeholders and an industry consortium are working together on the airspace efforts,” AFWERX Airspace Innovation and Prime Partnerships Program Manager Darshan Divakaran stated.

An MV-22 Osprey with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 363, May 15, 2017. Image: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Becky L. Calhoun

Ready by Next Year

The team also signed a $4.8-million contract with air traffic management solutions provider ResilienX to support corresponding tasks for the center.

“We are thrilled with the trust AFWERX has put in us to lead this consortium,” ResilienX CEO Ryan Pleskach said.

“Through a dedicated systems engineering approach, we intend to develop a dual-use solution to the core digital infrastructure needed for advanced air mobility that is inherently scalable and extensible.”

“Through this pioneering effort and with support of all the federal stakeholders that AFWERX is bringing to the table, we believe this solution will be turnkey and available to government and commercial markets in late 2024.”

Throughout the project, each member is expected to leverage technological and industrial experiences to build the “most robust system possible.”

More partners will be selected in the future to meet additional requirements of the US military and other government stakeholders.

Vertical take-off and landing drones
Vertical take-off and landing drones. Photo: DARPA

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