Now is the Time for Los Angeles to Lean Into its Aviation Legacy and Shape the Future

Chris Runde

LA could be a global model for hyper-modal livability ahead of the 2028 Olympics, but it must move quickly.

Los Angeles has a long history of pioneering transportation innovations. The first flights to circumnavigate the globe took off and landed in our back yard at Santa Monica Airport almost 100 years ago. The 27,000-mile journey took 175 days and relied heavily on printed maps and rudimentary navigational tools.

Fast-forward to today; the challenge has shifted from spanning distances to answering questions on local liveability, congestion, emissions and integrating emerging technology. Nowadays, you will find self-driving cars on LA neighborhood streets, app-based transportation options at our fingertips and transformational businesses like SpaceX operating in Silicon Beach.

The world will be coming to California in the next few years as it holds soccer matches for the FIFA World Cup in 2026, and hosts the 2028 summer Olympics here in Los Angeles. Both will be ideal chances for LA to embrace its innovation heritage and grab the global spotlight as a model for the future of transportation.

Chris Runde, director of Innovation and vice president of Aviation at Introba, has more than 20 years of innovation program experience across Accenture, TSA, AAAE and private industry.

So how do we capture this unique opportunity?

Like the first pilots to fly around the world, we must embrace uncertainty and reimagine our transportation infrastructure. Next-generation spaces and assets are multipurpose, technology-enabled, integrated with nature and focused on benefits to citizens and communities.

The future of transportation is happening now. Paris is hosting the 2024 Olympics and promoting its intent to operate electric-powered vertical take-off and landing aircraft, known in the industry as eVTOLs, at the event. While this demonstration isn’t at scale, it shows that our science-fiction, Jetsons future is much closer than we think.

With these trends in mind, our teams researched the transportation pioneering opportunities around LA and highlighted the potential to reimagine Santa Monica Airport (SMO), which, despite its illustrious history, is set to close in 2028. Local leadership realizes the unique opportunity and recently launched an extensive community engagement project regarding the future of the airport. SMO has the right location, space and community culture to be a model for the future of community-focused transit hubs.

We gathered experts in sustainability, transit planning, human experience and other areas to analyze SMO from different angles. The result was a vision of SMO that brings innovation training and entrepreneurship, integrated modes of transit, environmental excellence and a sense of place where the community gathers.

We also developed a platform called Airformer to analyze the impacts of air mobility including insights on travel time. The system showed that a typical drive from Santa Monica to downtown LA can take up to 60 minutes, while a direct-line eVTOL could take that trip down to a mere six minutes. We found similar time savings across the region, where eVTOL operations at scale could result in commuter time savings of 13 million hours per year to ease traffic flows, from downtown LA, Burbank or Orange County and beyond.

Easing congestion is just the beginning. With proper vision, SMO will be a model for mobility, community, sustainability and future-flexibility. The next iteration of SMO will provide:

  • life-saving services for the community,
  • rainwater innovations that quell flood risk while providing drought mitigation,
  • equitable and intuitive transportation for people and things,
  • local markets and cultural events, and
  • innovation incubation perfectly aligned with SMO’s rich history.

Creating a new vision for SMO could cascade across the Greater LA area and benefit 18.5 million residents throughout the state. By investing in this vision now, we can start introducing transport infrastructure and solutions that improve people’s lives in the coming months and years, benefiting our environment and helping show California at its best on the world stage.

2022 Charlotte Douglas International Airport Report of Achievement

Giving back to the community is central to what Charlotte Douglas International Airport and its operator, the City of Charlotte Aviation Department, is about, and last year was no different. 

Throughout 2022, while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued our efforts to have a positive impact on the Charlotte community. Of particular note, we spent the year sharing stories of how Connections Don't Just Happen at the Terminal - from creating homeownership and employment opportunities to supporting economic growth through small-business development and offering outreach programs to help residents understand the Airport better.

This whitepaper highlights the construction projects, initiatives, programs and events that validate Charlotte Douglas as a premier airport.

Download the whitepaper: 2022 Charlotte Douglas International Airport Report of Achievement.



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