GACA president: The sector strategy provides unprecedented opportunities for global aviation and the infrastructure needed for the smart cities of the future

13 Feb 2024

His Excellency the President of the General Authority of Civil Aviation, Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, confirmed that the Saudi Aviation Strategy provides unprecedented opportunities for global aviation and the necessary infrastructure for smart cities in the future. This strategy relies on advanced air transportation methods that offer innovative transportation solutions that rely on safe and sustainable means.

This came during his participation in the work of the Global Smart Cities Forum, organized by the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing. The Global Smart Cities Forum took place on February 12th and 13th, at the Riyadh Arena which incorporated the slogan "A Better Life". The forum witnessed the participation of more than 100 speakers representing 40 countries around the world.

His Excellency explained that last January, GACA launched a roadmap to enable Advanced Air Mobility, aiming to develop the Saudi air transport sector and make it the most developed and advanced in the Middle East region. This initiative seeks to increase the sector’s contribution to the economic and social development in the Kingdom. He indicated that air mobility is a crucial element of the Kingdom's vision for the future and a significant tool for improving citizens' quality of life.

He added that Advanced Air Mobility technologies would provide safe, sustainable, and faster means of transportation for people and goods. This will contribute to alleviating congestion on the roads, facilitating access to distant or remote places, and enhancing emergency services and relief efforts. Mr. Al-Duailej stressed that advanced air mobility is fundamental to The Kingdom’s efforts to achieve its goal of eliminating carbon emissions and achieving net zero emissions by 2060, thus contributing to a greener and more sustainable future.

His Excellency furthermore emphasized that the Kingdom has taken several steps to enable Advanced Air Mobility, including the establishment of new and advanced generation airports such as the Red Sea International Airport and NEOM Airport. These airports are capable of meeting future mobility needs, along with vertical airports and the necessary infrastructure for vertical take-off and landing aircraft.

These developments will be pivotal for future transportation and could be considered one of the pillars of the transportation sector. The General Authority of Civil Aviation has also begun implementing several successful experiments for Advanced Air Mobility in multiple locations within the Kingdom. The most notable of these experiments was the first successful flight test of an electric aircraft with vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) in June 2023 in the city of NEOM.

He stated that the plan addresses the main requirements for developing the Advanced Air Mobility system, including technology, regulations, infrastructure, airspace, traffic management, human capabilities, and public trust. The plan consists of three stages to ensure the provision of safe and permanent regulations for the development of Advanced Air Mobility and smart cities. GACA is working closely with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of the United Nations and other regulatory bodies such as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure global consistency of advanced air mobility regulations.

After his speech, His Excellency the President of the General Authority of Civil Aviation invited participants in the Global Smart Cities Forum to attend the Future Aviation Conference, which the Authority is holding in Riyadh from May 20 to 22. During this conference, GACA will review the progress made by the Kingdom in the field of Advanced Air Mobility. His Excellency emphasized that shaping the future of aviation requires the participation of smart city leaders around the world to create a more prosperous reality for all.

It is noteworthy that the Global Smart Cities Forum aims to form an ambitious vision for the future of cities using smart solutions. The forum aims to draw up basic rules that support city development plans to achieve sustainable urban development consistent with the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030 and its aspirations to enhance the quality of life. The forum supports governments worldwide in adopting innovative models and smart solutions that contribute to improving services, public safety and environmental sustainability, with people at the center of development.

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