Efforts to Integrate Advanced Air Mobility in North Texas Attract Attention of NASA

Space administration to lead workshops designed to propel industry forward
Brian Wilson

 (Arlington, Texas) – North Texas is attracting attention for its embrace of creative transportation solutions from an agency that knows something about moving people in innovative ways – NASA.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments has entered into an agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to study the potential of drone technology and integrate it into future transportation plans.

NASA will work with NCTCOG and a group of public- and private-sector partners to study cargo-carrying drones and automated air taxis during a series of at least four future workshops.

NASA has been engaged with the Federal Aviation Administration and other regions about how to integrate Advanced Air Mobility technologies such as drones, also called unmanned aircraft systems, into metropolitan areas.

Drones are becoming more common for use in business, public safety and recreational purposes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, NCTCOG has been hosting monthly virtual workshops to help professional operators and hobbyists remain up to date on the rules and regulations governing drone use, as well as best practices.

The NASA workshops will bring together subject-matter experts from NASA and transportation planning to help the region develop “best practices,” from identifying a common set of terms to use in discussions and planning documents, to evaluating potential criteria that might be used in locating future “vertiports” for vertical takeoff and landing aircraft – and much more.

In addition to NCTCOG, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Ohio Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of the Ohio Department of Transportation and the City of Orlando, Florida, have agreed to work with NASA on similar projects.

The effort will begin June 16, when NASA meets with the five entities selected.

Elements such as public acceptance, infrastructure, operational integration and local regulations must be considered on the way to widespread implementation of drone technology. The NASA-led exercises will help the region navigate these issues; NASA will bring lessons learned through its work with other regions across the country to help NCTCOG develop best practices and potentially access additional funding.

About the North Central Texas Council of Governments:
NCTCOG is a voluntary association of local governments established in 1966 to assist local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit and coordinating for sound regional development. NCTCOG's purpose is to strengthen both the individual and collective power of local governments and to help them recognize regional opportunities, eliminate unnecessary duplication and make joint decisions.
NCTCOG serves a 16-county region of North Central Texas, which is centered on the two urban centers of Dallas and Fort Worth. Currently, NCTCOG has 238 member governments including 16 counties, 169 cities, 22 school districts and 31 special districts. For more information on the NCTCOG Transportation Department, visit www.nctcog.org/trans.  
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