Introduction

The roadmap provides clarity about Australia’s future approach to aviation safety regulation and oversight for remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) and advanced air mobility (AAM). It provides a plan for the long-term vision for these sectors supported by acceptable levels of safety.

The roadmap is complementary to the National Emerging Aviation Technologies (NEAT) Policy Statement and other whole-of-government initiatives, such as the Australian Future Airspace Framework (AFAF) and Uncrewed Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) development.

We are responsible for the regulation of aviation safety which is the focus of the activities in the roadmap. Where necessary we will work with other government agencies to support the regulation of other aspects of RPAS and AAM operations.

The RPAS and AAM landscape is also only one of several significant, and often interrelated, emerging technology areas in aviation. We will continue to work on safety aspects across all these areas.

What is RPAS?

Commonly referred to as drones, RPAS are different from other aircraft because they have no pilot or crew onboard.

The term 'RPAS' is commonly used to refer to the aircraft itself, but it also includes all components of the system required for operation. This includes:

  • ground control stations
  • telemetry and communications
  • sensors
  • other hardware and software used to operate the aircraft.

While there isn't a globally agreed definitional difference between RPAS and AAM, for the purpose of this roadmap RPAS refers to operations that use smaller aircraft with no passengers onboard.

What is AAM?

AAM describes a range of aircraft types (both crewed and uncrewed) which will transport passengers and larger freight.

The ongoing advancement in this sector is a flow on from the progress being made in:

  • hybrid and electrification of propulsion systems
  • energy storage
  • lightweight materials
  • digitalisation
  • automation.

These innovations have made possible an array of new vehicle types spanning multi-rotor, tilt-wing, tilt-rotor, powered wing, offering short take-off and landing (STOL) through to vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities.

The performance and level of automation of these types varies a lot, with different AAM concepts largely falling into 2 operational sub-categories:

  • Urban air mobility (UAM) – short to medium range and endurance designed for low altitude point-to-point passenger or cargo carrying tasks in, and between, urban areas.

  • Regional air mobility (RAM) – short to medium range and endurance designed for low altitude point-to-point passenger or cargo carrying tasks between regional areas.

AAM vehicle types

Multi-rotor VTOL

Multi-rotor VTOL landing
Multi-rotor VTOL takeoff

Tilt-rotor STOL

Tilt-rotor STOL landing
Tilt-rotor STOL takeoff

Tilt-rotor VTOL

Tilt-rotor VTOL landing
Tilt-rotor VTOL takeoff

Tilt-wing STOL

Tilt-wing STOL landing
Tilt-wing STOL takeoff

Tilt-wing VTOL

Tilt-wing VTOL landing
Tilt-wing VTOL takeoff
Published date: 17 June 2022
Online version available at: https://www.casa.gov.au//search-centre/corporate-plans/rpas-and-aam-strategic-regulatory-roadmap/introduction
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