Michael O. Ball

Funding Agency

Federal Aviation Administration




This is an eight-month, $54,800 research contract.

The work involves understanding the dynamic capacity of accommodating Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) from the airport surface and ATC tower perspective.

Early adoption of advanced air mobility (AAM) using vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft could begin with shuttle-like services between downtown and airports given the time savings compared to other transport modes. Such AAM operations require that vertiports are located on or near airports and will be treated as general aviation operations while entering and operating in controlled airspace. University of South Florida (USF) previous work designed VTOL routes arriving and departing from a vertiport on Tampa International Airport by applying learning method, Rapidly Exploring Random Tree (RRT) algorithm. Those routes consume minimal energy while staying a specified distance from current manned operations, terrain features, and obstacles. It sets foundation for understanding the available capacity to accommodate VTOL operations. However, on the other side, tower air traffic controller workload influences airport capacity, as well as the available capacity that can be allocated to serve VTOL operations. This study takes Tampa International Airport as the case study airport, explore how the airport would accommodate VTOL operations by interviewing aviation experts and possibly former or active tower controllers.

AAM is an emerging concept for transporting people and cargo in urban, rural, regional, and interregional settings using revolutionary new aircraft, VTOLs. Early-stage passenger use cases could be commercial air transport service with scheduled urban or rural route and with single pilot on board. Given that timely arrival to airports is more critical than many other purposes of roadway trips, especially for business trips, air shuttle service between downtown and airports could be the early-stage AAM use cases and attract early adopters. This work assumes that FAA will consider early AAM operations as general aviation and impose the same requirements and provide air traffic services. Meanwhile, given the low seat capacity and flexible maneuverability, it is operational efficient for designing VTOL routes arriving and departing from a vertiport on the airport without interfering the existing commercial flights. Thus, the available capacity for accommodating VTOL operations at an airport is restricted both by the traffic patterns of the commercial flight operations as well as tower air traffic controller workload. Although AAM 23-F-00149 2 related research had a growth spurt in last several years, understanding available capacity at airport for accommodating VTOL operations from the perspective of the ATC tower has not been well studied.