Italy Aerospace and Defense Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)
Italy’s advanced air mobility (AAM) project will create an ecosystem for interurban commercial transport, freight transport and more.
The European Union (EU) estimates that by 2030 the drone services market will be worth $15 billion and will create 145,000 jobs. Measures have been put in place to advance the development of autonomous systems seen as crucial means for going green, particularly in the transportation sector. The EU Drone Strategy 2.0 builds on the safety framework for drone operations by setting technical requirements and outlines how Europe can pursue large-scale commercial drone operations and provide new sector opportunities particularly for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It also identifies areas for synergies between civil and defense drones, and for increased counter-drone capabilities and system resilience.
The Italian Government views the sector, which is currently valued at $53 million, as a priority. In December 2019, the Government of Italy launched the national Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) project. The goal of the AAM project is to create an Italian advanced air mobility ecosystem for interurban commercial transport, freight transport, public services and private recreational transport. The AAM National Strategic Plan falls under a committee chaired by the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) with representatives from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport and the Department of Digital Transition under the Prime Minister’s Office. ENAC implements the national strategy and coordinates initiatives. Coordination is under the direct supervision of the Director of ENAC’s New Technologies Research and Development Department.
ENAV (providing civil air navigation services in the Italian airspace) and its three subsidiaries (Techno Sky, IDS AirNav, and D-Flight) have access to $100 million in grants as part of Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan, a fund of over $200 billion in loans and grants awarded by the EU to help Italy recover economically and socially from the COVID-19 pandemic, by focusing primarily on digitization, innovation and the ecological transition. Funds will be used to digitize and innovate the Italian airspace management system by March 2026.
The Rome Airports Management company Aeroporti di Roma, its parent company Atlantia, and Volocopter (Germany) built the first vertiport at the Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport and conducted the first successful crewed eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) test flight in Italian airspace in October 2022. The goal is to roll out AAM services in Rome by 2024 to connect the airport to Rome’s city center and later introduce additional routes in and around the city. UrbanV — owned by Aeroporti di Roma, SAVE Group, Bologna Airport and Aeroports de la Côte d’Azur (France) — will focus on designing, building and operating vertiports that will consist of small passenger terminals suited to eVTOL flight dimensions. UrbanV plans to establish an ecosystem of key players, both national and international, to support the project by providing products and services to create a complete end-to-end offer for vertiports in Italy.
Regulations regarding new VTOL aircraft are evolving. The EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) governs airworthiness and the relevant regulatory framework includes two key EU directives: 947/2019 and 945/2019, regulating unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and third-country operators of UAS. The regulations establish that each member state’s rules are to be based on the level of risk. Certification of vehicles depends on the type of operation of each VTOL. Low-risk operations are classified in the “open” category with no need for authorization. As risk rises, the operation of a given vehicle falls in the “specific” category. The high-risk category involves the transport of passengers or dangerous goods or operations over assemblies of people and, therefore, requires certification.
ENAC regulates unmanned vehicles and VTOL aircraft. Safety and security information for operating UAS can be found on the ENAC website. D-Flight S.p.A. is the subsidiary responsible for management and control of unmanned civil air traffic in Italy. It pursues the development and provision of low-altitude air traffic management services for remotely piloted aircraft (APR) and all other types of aircraft that fall in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) category and any activity connected to them.
To operate in Italy, U.S. manufacturers of VTOLs must refer to both FAA and EASA rules. Once a U.S. firm has received FAA certification, it must file with EASA to obtain design validation. U.S. firms are not obligated to establish a business in Europe but must have design validation and guarantee airworthiness. Filing with EASA fills any gaps with respect to EU regulations. Requests can be filed with EASA for Design Organizations Approval (DOA) at: https://www.easa.europa.eu/en/domains/aircraft-products/design-organisations/design-organisations-approvals
US firms may address specific questions directly to ENAC in English and email them to: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. All requests are filtered and sent to the appropriate division.
For more information and to learn about opportunities in the Italian market, contact Maria.Calabria@trade.gov