The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced that it has entered into a Space Act agreement with the federal space agency to collaborate on initiatives to plan the next generation of flight within the complex airspace of the Port District.
The evolution of flight technology, known within the technology industry as Urban Air Mobility or UAM, includes the use of drones and electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles to move cargo and passengers. The Port Authority was chosen for its operational knowledge of the constrained airspace around the region due to the operations of the agency’s three major airports and the potential strength of the regional market in the future of air travel.
NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., is researching how such vehicles could operate safely in an urban environment using lab and flight experiments. The Port Authority, which is interested in exploring the evolution of flight technology to better serve the region’s airport customers, will act as a liaison with airlines and other interested parties and help select scenarios for more NASA research.
“For more than a century, the Port Authority has been a leader in applying new ideas in order to make better and more efficient use of resources, brainpower, and infrastructure,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “From the historic engineering feats of our bridges and tunnels, to the birth of containerization and the shipping industry that now powers the global economy, to the outsized role our airports have played in shaping international air travel, the Port Authority knows what it means to be forward-looking. We are excited to work with NASA to help push the Urban Air Mobility industry forward.”
“The Port Authority has a long history of fostering and promoting innovation and new technology to advance our agency’s mission to keep the region moving, including our most recent initiatives on the use of unmanned aircraft systems for maintenance, testing autonomous vehicle technology to increase capacity, or working with stakeholders to redevelop or replace outmoded facilities.” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “This partnership with NASA will provide huge impetus to our effort to be at the cutting edge of new technology.”
In addition to this unique NASA initiative, the Port Authority has been developing its drone program to help maintain its bridges and inspect piers at the Port of New York and New Jersey. Among a variety of early focal points, the partnership will address electric vertical takeoff craft as potentially sustainable transit to airports for use in short flights under 200 miles, and other uses. This 5-year non-reimbursable Space Act agreement will include milestones for conducting simulations, the development of new procedures, and building a concept of operations together. NASA non-reimbursable Space Act agreements are mutually beneficial agreements that further NASA’s missions, with each partner bearing the cost of its participation and no funds being exchanged between the parties.
The Port Authority previously partnered with NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration to determine ways of modernizing air traffic control with advanced technology.