Development of new air vehicles (e.g., personal air vehicles, urban air taxis, etc.) have led to a proliferation of Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) vehicle concepts including electric vehicles, many of which are well-funded and are in various stages of prototype development and test. A CNBC article from March 6, 2020 noted “Another urban air mobility (UAM) study, by Frost & Sullivan, sees air taxis beginning in 2022 in Dubai and expanding with a compound annual growth rate of about 46% to more than 430,000 units in operation by 2040.” The large number of vehicles that are being designed to ferry passengers in dense urban environments will almost exclusively feature fly-by-wire flight control systems that may have advanced response-types. The processes and requirements needed to certify these disparate vehicles for operation within the National Airspace System are still emerging. To aid in the requirements and certification process, Systems Technology, Inc. (STI) under sponsorship by the FAA, is employing a mission-oriented approach to define and assess mission task elements (MTEs) that will provide a flight test certification means of compliance (MOC). MTEs have for decades been used for handling qualities flight test evaluations of military rotorcraft. For low speed and hover MTEs, however, often elaborate ground courses are required to successfully complete the evaluations. To minimize the need for specific courses, a team led by STI proposes to develop the Means of Compliance Requirements for UAM Evaluations and Ratings (MCRUER) system, a novel tablet-based cockpit display and sensor system that provides the test pilot evaluator virtual MTE courses from which to evaluate the vehicle against. Such a device will not only benefit the NASA UAM Grand Challenge program, but also VTOL flight test evaluations conducted by the manufacturers and FAA Aircraft Certification Offices.
The MCRUER flight test system applies to several NASA projects. The technology applies directly to the ARMD Flight Demonstrations and Capabilities projects. Specifically, the MCRUER system can support the growing number of flight test activities including the UAM Grand Challenge by providing a means to easily and repeatedly perform MTE evaluations. The MCRUER system also applies to the RVLT Project, where the system supports the goal to “develop and validate tools, technologies and concepts to overcome key barriers for vertical lift vehicles.”
CNBC noted that “the autonomous urban aircraft market [is] potentially worth $1.5 trillion by 2040, according to a Morgan Stanley Research study.” There is a need for the MCRUER system to support flight evaluations and certification testing. STI has relationships regarding certification methods with several companies producing eVTOL vehicles from which a customer base will be established.