Are NASA and the FAA leaving the UAM industry and Urban areas hanging?

Michael DeKort
3 min readJan 16, 2021

I just read the NASA UAM ConOps for UML4. Unfortunately, it seems to confirm several things:

· An unreasonable and dangerous over reliance on UTM in complex environments The definition of UML 5 specifically states “UTM inspired ATM” — And that is with up to 9999 SIMULTANEOUS ops

· Inclusion of an independent “surveillance” common operating picture, warning and control system is “supplemental” or optional no matter how complex the environment

· No mention or assistance with the V2X 5G 30mhz limited bandwidth issue — Or that the RF is shared with the ground side V2X systems

· Urban and state governments are left on their own to not only figure out what the gaps are but to perform the end-state system of systems designs, create implementation plans and execute them

I was told that NASA only got involved in UAM because the FAA asked for help. Whether this is true or not, why allow for the issues I listed above? And no independent “AWACS” capability? 9999 simultaneous ops that re handled 24X7 everywhere on the planet with just UTM and every air assets deconflicting on their own? With the fact that just one mildly significant air tragedy dooms the industry, isn’t this a bit short sighted?

While no community is near UML4 yet, it is approaching. It would be one thing if a full end-state system of systems design was done and folks were just starting to tackle incremental integration and all the regulation, financial, logistics and installation work that entailed. But another to leave the need “supplemental” and leave local governments the extremely hot potato. Clearly, NASA is more than capable of getting this done? Or. . . has the IT/Silicon Valley/Agile wave got to them like it has DoD and the FAA?

I address the issues and suggested way forward in my article here

Smart Cities are Not Safe Cities for Drones, Air Taxis, Autonomous Vehicles etc-They Should and Can Be

Why Silicon Valley Agile engineering approaches won’t work for urban air mobility


My name is Michael DeKort — I am a former system engineer, engineering, and program manager for Lockheed Martin. I worked in Aerospace/DoD/FAA simulation, as a Sr PM and then the Software Engineering Manager for all of NORAD, as a PM on the Aegis Weapon System, as Lead C4ISR systems engineer for the DHS Deepwater program and the lead C4ISR engineer for the Counter-terrorism team at the US State Department. I am now CEO/CTO at Dactle.

Industry Participation — Air and Ground Autonomy and eVTOL

- Founder SAE On-Road Autonomous Driving Simulation Task Force

- Member SAE ORAD Verification and Validation Task Force

- Member UNECE WP.29 SG2 Virtual Testing

- Stakeholder USDOT VOICES (Virtual Open Innovation Collaborative Environment for Safety)

- Member SAE G-34 / EUROCAE WG-114 Artificial Intelligence in Aviation

- Member CIVATAglobal — Civic Air Transport Association

- Member Teleoperation Consortium

- Stakeholder for UL4600 — Creating AV Safety Guidelines

- Member of the IEEE Artificial Intelligence & Autonomous Systems Policy Committee

- Presented the IEEE Barus Ethics Award for Post 9/11 DoD/DHS Efforts



Michael DeKort

Non-Tribal Truth Seeker-IEEE Barus Ethics Award/9–11 Whistleblower-Aerospace/DoD Systems Engineer/Member SAE Autonomy and eVTOL development V&V & Simulation