Revised Proposal Due Dates for NASA UAM Grand Challenge Announcement of Collaborative Partnership Opportunities

We are sending an update to the ARMD Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge (GC) Announcement of Collaborative Partnership Opportunities (ACO).

We understand that the multiple due dates, added to the change over from FedBizOpps to, created some confusion regarding the proposal process and when proposals should be submitted. To address any confusion, we have unified the proposal due dates.

All proposals submitted to the GC ACO are due by December 19, 2019 (12pm Pacific time).

Please contact Starr Ginn at [email protected] with any questions regarding this ACO or the proposal submission process.

A direct link to the Announcement can be found here.

NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) plans to host a series of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) “Grand Challenges.” The Grand Challenge (GC) series is designed to promote public confidence in UAM safety; facilitate community-wide learning while capturing the public’s imagination; and give prospective vehicle manufacturers and operators, and prospective airspace service providers, insights into the evolving regulatory and operational environment. The GC series is also intended to support UAM requirements and system development through integrated vehicle and airspace demonstrations in operational scenarios that are critical to safe and scalable UAM commercialization. The NASA GC series will facilitate bringing together vehicle and airspace service providers to help understand the current UAM system maturity levels with respect to vehicle performance, safety assurance, airspace interoperability, etc., and to develop and demonstrate integrated solutions for civil use.

NASA plans to host an initial or first GC (GC-1) with industry participants in Calendar Year (CY) 2022 that will address key safety and integration barriers across UAM vehicle and airspace systems, while also emphasizing critical operational challenges towards commercial viability and public confidence in UAM operations around populated areas. GC-1 will enable participants to demonstrate integrated operations in relevant scenarios that include: two-way network flight plan communications; beyond visual line of sight operations; real and simulated vehicle and operations contingencies; dynamic traffic avoidance and trajectory management; and approach and landing to vertipads in the presence of real structures and associated mechanical turbulence. NASA is aligning GC-1 with industry-proposed initial commercial operations based on concepts of operations in low density and low complexity environments. NASA is also structuring GC-1 to include key elements necessary to progress beyond initial commercial operations to achieve scalability of operations, such as, Simplified Vehicle Operations (SVO) through assistive automation and autonomy, and airspace operations using the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) construct to manage the high-density air traffic.

NASA, with the assistance of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has designed a series of Grand Challenge Safety Scenarios that will be essential in executing the GC series. These scenarios are described and detailed in the attached “Grand Challenge Safety Scenarios” or “Scenarios” document, and are envisioned to be a part of GC-1, and anticipated future challenges in the GC series. The scenarios are designed to progress in difficulty and complexity through the GC series, likely requiring higher levels of vehicle and airspace system automation and/or autonomy to complete increasingly more complex integrated scenarios. It is expected that these test scenarios will evolve and be refined over time, and additional scenarios added as the GC series progresses. All of the participants in the GC series will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the current set of test scenarios and suggest new scenarios to help NASA and the FAA arrive at a common set that can be used for all participants in each subsequent GC in the series.

Prior to GC-1, NASA plans to host a GC development activity in CY 2020, referred to as the GC Development Test (GC-DT). GC-DT is intended to demonstrate essential integrated flight and airspace development activities to prepare for GC-1, and to provide risk reduction to help ensure that GC-1 is successful and provides best benefit to participants, the government, and the UAM community. GC-DT will consist of UAM flight activities that will bring industry vehicle and airspace partners together to check-out and refine the integrated GC-1 UAM flight scenarios to verify mission and success criteria, verify the NASA-provided test range proving ground for applicability for UAM testing, evaluate participant vehicle and airspace readiness, and benchmark vehicle noise. GC-DT will also include airspace development activities through robust airspace simulations that will provide industry airspace participants the ability to test their UAM services against the same set of scenarios as flight and advance airspace interoperability needed for GC-1 through simulation in a relevant environment. Airspace participants in GC-DT will have the option of including live flight data as part of the UAM airspace activities demonstration if the participant is able to provide and integrate a conventional, certified vehicle (e.g., a helicopter) in lieu of a novel UAM vehicle into the airspace simulation activities. GC-DT also provides an opportunity for UAM industry partners to work with NASA and the FAA to provide feedback and suggestions on early solutions to critical integration problems.

Grand Challenge Partnership Strategy
This Announcement is intended to solicit for GC participants in the following categories:
– UAM vehicle developers that propose to fly in GC-DT in 2020
– UAM airspace companies that propose to participate in airspace development activities for GC-DT in 2020
– UAM vehicle developers that propose to begin information exchange with NASA in preparation to fly in GC-1 in 2022

NASA plans to use its other transaction authority contained within the National Aeronautics Space Act, 51 U.S.C. § 20113(e), to enter into a non-reimbursable Umbrella Space Act Agreement (SAA) and a series of individual Annexes. Non-reimbursable SAAs are formal partnership agreements involving NASA and a Partner in a mutually beneficial activity that furthers NASA’s mission, where each party bears the cost of its participation, and there is no exchange of funds between the parties. An Umbrella Agreement provides a mechanism for NASA and a Partner to agree to a series of related or phased activities using a single governing instrument that contains all common terms and conditions, and establishes the legal framework for the accompanying Annexes. Individual tasks are implemented through Annexes adopting the terms and conditions of the Umbrella Agreement and adding specific details for each task. The progression of the GC series has led NASA to use an Umbrella SAA with each individual partner to cover their participation in the GC series while implementing series of annexes with each individual partner as they progress through each phase of the GC series, beginning with GC-DT.

Each participant in the GC series, including vehicle and airspace providers, will sign an Umbrella SAA with NASA, as well as one or more Annexes that defines how they will participate in the progression of GC activities. For this Announcement, there are 2 Umbrella SAAs with one drafted to cover participation by domestic U.S. companies, and the other drafted to cover participation by foreign companies. There are also currently 3 Annexes that are drafted to cover the 3 categories listed above, namely: UAM vehicle developers that propose to fly in GC-DT in 2020; airspace companies that propose to participate in airspace development activities for GC-DT; and vehicle companies that wish to begin the information exchange in order to fly in GC-1 in 2022.

Forms of the 2 Umbrella SAAs that cover participation by domestic U.S. and foreign companies, and 3 Annexes that cover participation in GC-DT and GC-1 activities, are attached to this Announcement. The Annexes are described as follows:

Flight Annex
The “Grand Challenge – Development Test Flight Annex”, or “Flight Annex”, covers participation by domestic U.S. UAM vehicle companies that will be ready to fly in GC-DT activities in late 2020 to demonstrate key integrated operational UAM scenarios. NASA anticipates selecting a limited pool of vehicle participants for GC-DT, choosing only those that best meet the goals of GC-DT in demonstrating critical integrated scenarios and providing risk reduction for GC-1. Vehicle companies are encouraged to partner with a domestic U.S. airspace service provider in order to best demonstrate integrated UAM flight scenarios, however NASA anticipates providing UAM airspace services to support GC-DT for vehicle companies that desire to work directly with NASA.

NASA will be providing a test range at Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) that will be available for GC-DT, and vehicle companies are encouraged to propose to fly at the NASA provided EAFB test range. NASA is planning on collecting vehicle noise data as part of the GC series, including GC-DT, and NASA anticipates deploying equipment and personnel to GC-DT test location to collect vehicle noise data through a series of take-off, landing, climb, descent, transition, and en-route flight conditions.

If a vehicle company has a number of additional partners or sub-contractors, only the prime organization would need to submit a proposal, and sign an Umbrella SAA and Flight Annex. If the proposal includes an airspace partner, that airspace partner must be a domestic U.S. company, and additionally the airspace partner is encouraged to separately submit a proposal to the Airspace Annex and work with NASA on GC-DT airspace development activities. Vehicle sub-systems providers, such as avionics and vehicle sub-component manufacturers, are encouraged to partner with vehicle provider primes in order to participate in GC-DT flight activities.

The specific requirements and evaluation criteria that NASA will use to select domestic U.S. partners for the GC-DT Flight Annex are outlined in Section 3 of the Announcement document.

Airspace Annex
The “Grand Challenge – Development Test Airspace Annex”, or “Airspace Annex”, covers participation by domestic U.S. airspace companies that propose to work with NASA as part of a UAM airspace simulation activity for GC-DT in 2020 to test the company UAM services against the set of GC test scenarios in a relevant simulation environment. Airspace participants in GC-DT will also have the option of providing and integrating live flight data into their simulation activities if they are able to bring a conventional, certified vehicle (e.g., a helicopter) in lieu of a novel UAM vehicle. Any live flight activities proposed by the participant would be conducted without direct NASA involvement in the flight activities, and would be flown at a range external to NASA. NASA intends to have broad participation in UAM airspace development activity, and anticipates selecting all proposals that can provide airspace systems / services, and meet the requirements and evaluation criteria outlined in Section 4 of the Announcement document.

Information Exchange Annex
The “Grand Challenge Vehicle Provider Information Exchange Annex”, or “Information Exchange Annex”, agreement covers UAM vehicle companies that have a desire to fly as part of GC-1 (anticipated to be in 2022) but are either: not ready to fly as part of GC-DT, do not want to be part of or were not selected to participate in GC-DT Flight Annex, or are an international UAM vehicle company. This annex will facilitate necessary information exchange with intended GC-1 vehicle participants: permitting NASA to shadow the participant’s airworthiness and flight safety review process; allowing the partner to provide feedback on GC test scenarios; and facilitating coordination of information on possible future flights at EAFB or at an external flight range. The requirements and evaluation criteria that NASA intends to use for this annex are listed in Section 5 of the Announcement document, and are written to cover as broad a participation as practical, including both domestic and foreign vehicle companies, while setting appropriate requirements to ensure that participants have a reasonable potential to successfully execute GC-1.

Grand Challenge Goals and Mutual Benefits
NASA intends the GC series to be an effort that will “raise the water level” for the entire UAM community through a holistic, operational testing approach. The goal of the GC is to accelerate development of safe, high-volume UAM flight operations in the existing and anticipated future national airspace system. Conducting the GC will help the government and industry identify significant UAM barriers, validate the state of the art, and inform the design and integration of vehicles, airspace, and ground infrastructure systems.

A broad participation from many organizations in the GC will enable the FAA, NASA, and the broader UAM community to develop and validate a common concept of operations (CONOPS) for UAM. This CONOPS must include flight procedures, future airspace operations management architectures, communication, navigation, and surveillance (CNS) architectures, takeoff/landing infrastructure requirements, and other items. The sooner a common CONOPS can be developed, the sooner requirements can be set for industry to begin maturing technologies and fielding systems that have a high degree of certainty to provide a return on the organizations’ investment and enable safe, high-volume UAM operations. The GC series is designed to allow for integrated testing of the different areas required for a common CONOPS so that the UAM community can move forward towards commercial operations.

Each GC in the series will build on previous GC results and allow industry to leverage new technologies and/or methodologies to address gaps that are uncovered along the way. In all cases, NASA and the FAA will use the data and results to support developing UAM regulatory and implementation approaches and strategies. In addition to collection of data and results that will help in the certification of novel aircraft, the GC will be collecting performance data, trajectory compliance data, vehicle robustness to contingencies, pilot work load, emergency procedures, evaluating levels of autonomy simplifying pilot functions, airspace communications, ground operations, infrastructure needs, and so forth. These data will help to inform new infrastructure standards, pilot/operator certification standards (e.g., with aircraft that have a high level of automation), and other standards.

In order for the GC series to be a success, vehicle, airspace, and community participants need to be committed to provide data to support the government’s longer-term UAM goals of developing requirements and standards to safely and efficiently open large-scale UAM markets. The UAM GC will not be a monetary award challenge, and each party will bear the costs of their participation with no exchange of funds, however, participation in the GC will give participants access to NASA’s knowledge and lessons learned with extensive experience designing, testing, and flying one-of-a-kind aircraft and airspace management systems.

FAA Coordination
Important to the future success of the Grand Challenge is the close collaboration and involvement of the FAA. This strategically valuable relationship was considered very early in the Grand Challenge planning process in which NASA sought early engagement with FAA stakeholders to garner support and cooperation. This mutually supporting and beneficial relationship will be capitalized upon by NASA throughout the Grand Challenge as the FAA develops a regulatory approach and a UAM implementation strategy.

Throughout the GC series NASA intends to address information requirements and provide lessons learned to inform FAA policy decisions on safety, certification, operations, and airspace integration aspects of UAM.

NASA intends to team with FAA throughout all stages of the Grand Challenge, from planning and scenario validation to Grand Challenge execution. FAA internal stakeholders are expected to provide subject matter expertise and technical support where possible to advance Grand Challenge objectives and ensure information captured from lessons learned informs future policy decisions on UAM.

Proposal Instructions
In order to participate in GC-DT, interested companies or “respondents” must submit a proposal to this Announcement against the specific requirements listed below for the particular Annex that best represents their interest and ability to participate in GC-DT. The requirements include a limit on the number of pages that can be submitted with a proposal, where a page is defined as one side of a sheet, 8 ½” x 11″, with at least one-inch margins on all sides, singled spaced, using not smaller than 12-point type, with the exception of tables and figures, which may use 8-point type. Any pages over the specified maximum will not be evaluated. Title pages, section and appendix cover pages, tables of contents, tabs and acronym listings are excluded from the specified page counts.

If the respondent agrees to the terms of the particular Umbrella SAA and Annex that they submit against, then they can return the Agreement filled in and signed with their proposal. If there is a particular reason the respondent is not able or willing to agree to specific requirements or terms of the Umbrella Agreement or Annex, the respondent may submit a request for required modifications to the Umbrella Agreement or Annex with the proposal. Each required modification will be assessed by the government against technical goals, fairness, efficiency, and available resources, to determine if the government is willing to accommodate the required modifications. If NASA does not wish to consider the modifications then the proposal will be considered incomplete and respondent will not have the opportunity to participate in GC-DT. Otherwise, NASA will contact the respondent to discuss the requested modifications as outlined in the evaluation criteria. Please note that NASA intends to treat all participants equitably, so changes to the model forms are not anticipated.

Respondents submitting a proposal against the Flight Annex should fill-in, sign and return the Flight Annex and the Domestic Umbrella agreement, along with their proposal. The Flight Annex for participation in flight activities in GC-DT in 2020 is open only to U.S. domestic companies.

Respondents submitting a proposal against the Airspace Annex should fill-in, sign and return the Airspace Annex and the Domestic Umbrella agreement, along with their proposal. The Airspace Annex for participation is airspace simulation activities in GC-DT in 2020 is open only to U.S. domestic companies.

Respondents submitting a proposal against the Information Exchange Annex should fill-in, sign and return the Information Exchange Annex and appropriate Umbrella for their company, along with their proposal. Domestic U.S. companies would use the Domestic Umbrella agreement, while foreign companies would use the International Umbrella agreement.

All proposal information shall be contained in the proposal; exterior references are not acceptable. NASA provides no funding for reimbursement of proposal development costs. Proposals submitted in response to this Announcement will not be returned. Respondents are encouraged to limit the amount of Proprietary Data (defined below) included in their proposal, and only include such information that is necessary to meet the proposal requirements listed in this Announcement. Respondents must clearly mark any Proprietary Data in their proposal. For purposes of this Announcement, “Proprietary Data” shall mean information set out in the proposal embodying trade secrets developed at private expense or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential, and that includes a clear restrictive notice, unless the information is (i) known or available from other sources without restriction, (ii) known, possessed, or developed independently, and without reference to such marked information in the proposal, (iii) made available by the owners to others without restriction, or (iv) required by law or court order to be disclosed. With respect to such Proprietary Data NASA shall:
a. Use, disclose, or reproduce such Proprietary Data only as necessary to evaluate the proposal;
b. Safeguard such Proprietary Data from unauthorized use and disclosure;
c. Allow access to such Proprietary Data only to its employees requiring access for purposes of evaluating the proposal;
d. Except as otherwise indicated in c., preclude disclosure outside NASA;
e. Notify its employees with access about their obligations under this Announcement and ensure their compliance; and
f. Dispose of such Proprietary Data after evaluation of the proposal has concluded.

Evaluated proposals determined by the Selecting Official in accordance with the terms of this Announcement will be formally selected to participate in the GC series.

Participant Eligibility
Both U.S. and foreign companies that intend to be able to meet scenarios defined in accordance to the reference documentation are eligible to participate in GC activities. This Announcement is to solicit for GC participants for GC-DT flight and airspace development activities, and for information exchange for purposes of early preparation for flight activities for GC-1. The eligibility requirements for the 3 Annexes attached to this Announcement are:

– “Grand Challenge – Development Test Flight Annex” – Open to domestic U.S. UAM vehicle companies, and optionally domestic U.S. airspace service provider partners.
– “Grand Challenge – Development Test Airspace Annex” – Open to domestic U.S. airspace companies and airspace service suppliers.
– “Grand Challenge Vehicle Provide Information Exchange Annex” – Open to domestic U.S. and foreign vehicle companies.

A “U.S. domestic company” is a commercial firm or business incorporated in the U.S. (or an unincorporated U.S. firm with its principal place of business in the U.S.) that is controlled by U.S. citizens or by another U.S. entity.

Participant Requirements
Performance of activities under this Announcement may require access to data that is subject to export control regulations. Any entity proposing shall comply with all U.S. export control laws including Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Respondents are responsible for ensuring that all employees who will work on this proposal and any resulting agreements are eligible under export control laws, EAR, and ITAR. Any employee who is not a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident may be restricted from participating in the Grand Challenge if technology is restricted under export control laws, ITAR, or EAR unless the prior approval of the Department of State or the Department of Commerce is obtained. Violations of export control limitations can result in criminal or civil penalties.

Proposals must not include bilateral participation, collaboration, or coordination with China or any Chinese-owned company or entity by NASA unless such activities are other specifically authorized by law. By submitting a proposal, proposers are certifying that the proposal does not include bilateral participation, collaboration, or coordination with China or any Chinese-owned company or entity by NASA. “China or Chinese-owned Company” means the People’s Republic of China, any company owned by the People’s Republic of China, or any company incorporated under the laws of the People’s Republic of China. By submission of its proposal, the respondent represents that the respondent is not China or a Chinese-owned company, and that the proposal does not anticipate or require NASA to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally with China or any Chinese-owned company

Key Dates
Flight Participants for GC-DT in 2020:
Proposals Due: November 22, 2019
Signed Agreement No Later Than: December 31, 2019

Airspace Participants for GC-DT in 2020:
Proposals Due: November 30, 2019
Signed Agreement No Later Than: December 31, 2019

Information Exchange in Preparation for GC-1 in 2022:
Proposals Due: November 30, 2020
Signed Agreement No Later Than: December 31, 2020

Submission Instructions
Proposals should be submitted via email to [email protected] and [email protected]. Proposal due dates are listed above, and it should be noted that the due dates for proposals submitted against each of the Annexes are different.

Contracting Office Address:
NASA/Armstrong Flight Research Center,
Code A, P.O. Box 273
Mail Stop 4811-140
Edwards, California 93523-0273
United States

Primary Point of Contact.:
Starr Ginn,
UAM Grand Challenge Lead
Advanced Air Mobility Project
[email protected]
Phone: 6612763434

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