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Urban Air Mobility Glossary

Our UAM Glossary is a collaborative effort from many industry experts.

If you have suggestions of changes or new terms to be added,

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Sustainability refers to the concept in which actions and tasks do not negatively impact the existing environment or standards of operation. In modern context, sustainability is associated with the actions of individuals that allow for the earth's environment and human life to co-exist. Sustainability has three underlying forms: social, economic and environmental, which follow an interdependent hierarchy.


What is sustainability

In early stages, sustainability referred to the use of natural and renewable resources that would have a long term yield effect. Whereas, over the modern ages, the term is now used in a much broader context to include social and economic considerations, as well as the environment.


In some cases this also covers political, cultural and technological aspects. Overtime, humans have been working towards finding and adopting a more sustainable lifestyle, with the long term goal to reduce the environmental detriment caused.


Due to rapid urbanisation and industrialisation in the 19th and 20th centuries, living conditions had worsened. One of the contributing factors was the reliance of fossil fuels and its combustion for transport, factories, and houses, propelling pollutants that induced air pollution.


This reduced air quality, affecting human health. Furthermore, the increase of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere affected the environment and the earth's climate.  


Henceforth, a sustainable way of living became a major focus; with reorganisations of living conditions (e.g. introduction of eco-villages and sustainable cities), reappraising economic sectors (e.g. with green buildings and sustainable agriculture), as well as new developments in science and technology (e.g. use of green technologies, renewable energy sources). 

Impact of industrialisation

Industrialisation was first recognised between the mid 18th century and early 19th century via the First Industrial Revolution. This revolution originated in Europe and the Americas, expanding from Great Britain to Northern America and then to Eastern Europe. Early industries provided an incentive for workers to transfer from agriculture requiring manual labour, to working in factories. Textiles, steel works and coal mining were a few of the popular developed industries at the time.


The new industry provided settlers of the rural regions with an opportunity to earn a better income, as well as the chance for a thriving living standard. The occurrence of the migration had many social and economic benefits. Whilst, also bringing changes within the internal lifestyle dynamics of individuals in that era. 


Joint and extended families were no longer prevalent; the move into the city resulted in smaller families, consisting of immediate relatives. The role of women within society also changed, from being housewives to working in various industries.   


Furthermore, industrialisation saw the introduction of the class system; consisting of the working class, middle class and upper class. The working class predominantly made up the workforce within the factories, whilst factories and other related businesses were predominantly run and owned  by the middle class.  


On the other hand, as a result of the increasing workforce within cities, and the emergence of many more factories, the economic state of the region had thrived. These cities began to trade between international regions, which became viable as the demand for goods exceeded its supply. As the industries flourished, the workforce increased, which began the process of urbanisation


However, industrialisation contributed negatively towards the environment in many cases. The early industrial factories were pollutant driven, relying heavily on fossil fuels as a power source, contributing towards air pollution. This had impacted the quality of air within the new cities, subsequently negatively affecting human health.  


The second industrial revolution (1970) introduced automated machine practices to replace manual labour in agriculture and factories. This revolution also brought about the development of internal combustion engines, and the modifications of the steam engines. This led to a more rapid succession of urbanisation. However, later industries adopted a more sustainable approach towards operation and use of more fuel sources. 


Wider impacts of industrialisation

The third industrial revolution (1969) saw the growth of many industries, for example in aviation, aircraft parts were now mass-produced within assembly lines as a result of automation procedures, as well as technological and research advancements. Therefore, aviation became more affordable and accessible to all community members - not just the elite. As a result, the airline industry began to flourish, paving the way for a more developed travel and tourism industry.


Growth of the aviation industry also had its advantages, as communities from various countries were able to connect. Furthermore, this revolution triggered faster globalisation, influencing cultural and economical trade. A new workforce developed, allowing new and existing industries to thrive.


The standards of living also advanced, as health care provision, access to education and political power increased. There was a shift in the working class structure, as their voices were able to be heard within political settings. 


Overall, throughout each industrial revolution, communities saw the development of transport infrastructures. Of course there were already existing forms of transport, however, with the technological developments there was a multimodal integration.


Roadways, canals, and railways further expanded; during 1803 and 1821, Thomas Telford had built 1000 miles (1609 km) of roads and 1000 bridges connecting several regions within the United Kingdom. 1850’s the canal network expanded to 4000 miles (6437km), the 1840s was known as the “railway mania”, with £3 billion being invested in the developments of rail networks between 1945 and 1900. 

UAM in context of Industrialisation

As the years progress, we witness changes within society, social norms and our relationship with the environment, leading to the expansion and introduction of new industries. A new revolution comes about as each new idea integrates with the existing ecosystem. 


With developments in UAM/AAM we can anticipate further improvements and benefits towards the society, economy and the environment. UAM and AAM have the potential to be a part of the fourth industrial revolution, alongside the electrification of other transport modes, including micro-mobility, drones and the Hyperloop. 

The new aerial mobility ecosystem does not replace existing transportation solutions, but rather works as an addition to provide wider societal and environmental benefits. This emerging industry can decrease transport congestion and allows for a means of better connectivity within urban and rural regions, especially the remote and underserved locations.

Sources and suggested reading


  1. Aircraft and the Third Industrial Revolution - Andrea Prencipe

  2. Industry 4.0 in aviation - MTU AEROREPORT

  3. Industrialisation - an overview - Dragos Simandan, in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (Second Edition), 2020

  4. Transport and the Industrial Revolution - Spartacus Educational

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