Florida Governor Ron DeSantis‘ administration took a shot at the Biden administration in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg this week, suggesting that the administration was intentionally slow-walking a plan that would allow the use of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, which can include “flying cars,” and was instead allowing France to take the lead in the sector.
Jared W. Perdue, P.E., Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), said that the department takes “great pride in our ability to attract, identify, and implement innovative solutions to grow and maintain our state’s robust transportation system” which he said was vital for the state’s continued rapid growth.
“Thanks to the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida continues to invest in transportation at record levels, recognizing the direct link between high-quality infrastructure and economic growth,” Perdue said. “Given Florida’s unprecedented growth, FDOT is working to identify new opportunities to keep our supply chain moving and the nearly 23 million residents and 137 million visitors who travel to the state annually.”
The letter said that the DeSantis administration quickly took interest in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) systems — a new sector of the aerospace industry which seeks to safely and efficiently integrate highly automated aircraft into the National Airspace System (NAS) — over two years ago, which are responsible for “utilizing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to move people and goods or provide services,” the letter said.
Perdue said that Florida created a group of over 50 stakeholders responsible for determining how the system would be used in the state.
“Last month, Florida released a report detailing our efforts, equipping our public and private sector partners to embrace AAM as soon as the technology is ready to launch,” the letter said. “Unfortunately, Florida faces one roadblock to begin putting our plans into motion: the continued delay of your Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).”
Perdue called out the FAA’s stated “acceptable timeline” for finalizing the implementation of the system, which is 2028, noting that it allows the U.S.’ competitors, like France, to showcase their technology first.
“America’s competitors, like France, are outpacing the U.S. in effectuating this emerging technology now,” he wrote. “Perhaps this is a deliberate delay by the Administration to allow France the spotlight of deploying this cutting-edge technology at the 2024 Summer Olympics. No one can know for certain given the FAA’s absent sense of urgency surrounding the topic.”
Perdue said that it was vital for the U.S. to lead in developing the technologies within the sector and that it will not happen if the Biden administration continues to sit on its hands.
The letter included a copy of Florida’s extensive report on integrating AAM in the state — a plan that the DeSantis administration finalized over the summer and that called for multiple steps in the plan to have already launched.