Comparing Urban Air Mobility Network Airspaces: Experiments and Insights

Christopher Cummings, Hani Mahmassani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Urban air mobility (UAM) systems include a network of (un)structured airspaces. The geometry and operations on these networks affect system performance across several goals including safety, efficiency, and externalities. The primary goal of this work is to find and illustrate the safety, efficiency, and externality trade-offs between different styles of network architecture. To do so, this paper uses a microscopic traffic simulator for UAM aircraft to experiment with different network architectures. Key performance measures reflecting the varied system goals are considered. Comparisons of network performance at varying demand levels illustrate the different behavior of traffic and congestion for each network architecture. The results indicate that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for network designs, rather there are trade-offs between designs. Fewer network restrictions and organization allow for routing efficiencies at the cost of a higher conflict rate and greater congestion at high demand levels. Greater network restrictions and organization can reduce the conflict rate and effectively manage high levels of demand but may suffer from locally concentrated conflicts and trajectories in addition to routing inefficiency. The insights will interest airspace researchers, regulators, and UAM operators as they consider appropriate future designs of airspace to accommodate UAM operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTransportation Research Record
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • aviation urban air mobility
  • operations
  • traffic flow
  • traffic flow theory and characteristics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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