Bell announced on Feb. 11 that it had signed an MOU with Sumitomo Corporation and Japan Airlines Co., Ltd., to “explore Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) and to foster the required infrastructure and regulatory environment.” The collaboration is intended to “inform the development of an on-demand air mobility ecosystem utilizing Bell’s air mobility solutions including Bell’s Air Taxi, the Nexus 4EX, in Japan” (see “Urban Air Mobility Steals the Show at CES 2020,” Vertiflite, March/April 2020, pg. 62). In addition to the air taxi, which is part of the Uber Elevate initiative, Bell is also developing its own UAM software, called AerOS (an app to request UAM flight service) and a comprehensive fleet management system (including aircraft health and charge status), and will run their own aerial ride sharing program.
Meanwhile, Airbus announced the next day that it had signed an MOU with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) to enable UAM in that city-state. The MOU was signed at the Singapore Airshow by Jean-Brice Dumont, executive VP for engineering at Airbus, and Kevin Shum, director-general of CAAS. This MOU builds on earlier collaborations, first established in 2016 for UAS proof-of-concept trials with Airbus’s “Skyways” drone. Airbus and CAAS subsequently signed an agreement with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to share and advance the development of operational and safety standards for UAS in urban environments. Singapore has also partnered with Volocopter for air taxi developments and demonstrations.