Japan expands government support of UAM development

Japan is ramping up its promotion of Urban Air Mobility (UAM), announcing new government initiatives in the development and deployment of a wide array of small craft across the nation’s cities.

Next Generation Aviation Mobility Planning Office

Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said this week it has created an entirely new administration tasked with overseeing UAM preparations. That Next Generation Aviation Mobility Planning Office is assigned with planning and applying regulatory and safety measures to govern UAM activity. Relying on a full-time staff of 22 officials, the unit will focus on operational, security, registration, maintenance, and other aspects of UAM service that will need to be fully detailed and framed in evolving regulation.

That work will oversee flights of both unmanned drones for delivery, surveillance, inspections, and other urban-area enterprise use, as well as future piloted UAM air taxi and other transport services. As part of its mission, the Office will interface with the Aircraft Technology Examination Center. That unit of Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau’s Safety Department is responsible for monitoring and steering developing aviation mobility craft and systems. 

Increased state support of drone development

In a related matter, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism also noted it was planning to regularize flight beyond visual line of sight operations by 2023. That is the same year Japan intends to begin regular service of passenger drones and other UAM craft in Japan.

Japan’s government has thrown considerable weight behind the nation’s drone industry, and has encouraged its development despite maintaining relatively strict regulations for commercial operation. Creation of the Next Generation Aviation Mobility Planning Office is another step in the government’s increasing support of drone use – providing business and private actors with a central agency responsible for guiding UAM activity.

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