In Focus

Winning the social licence to operate

Social licence is not a new concept – new technologies often disrupt the existing order and as a result incite strong reactions from society.

The emergence of the first combustion-based automobile at the turn of the 19th century in Europe was met with significant distrust, scepticism and fear. People were concerned about the safety, noise, and how expensive these vehicles were, which created a significant divide between the wealthy and the rest of society. Government and manufacturers were forced to act, creating cheaper cars supported by government policy. Twenty years later the car had become a ubiquitous feature on the road – the social licence battle, won.

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) faces a similar challenge today, driven by a convergence of several factors. It represents an unknown futuristic technology; its closest comparator is the helicopter, which has a reputation for being noisy and expensive; and it will have a material visual impact on the communities in which people live, encroaching into new, relatively untouched environments.

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