Hyundai Motor Group has appointed Dr Jaiwon Shin as executive VP and head of its newly established Urban Air Mobility Division. An internationally renowned aeronautics engineer, Shin will lead the company into a new era of developing smart mobility products within the aviation industry.

“Having worked on cutting-edge aviation R&D at NASA for 30 years, I am very excited and humbled by the opportunity to now shape urban air mobility strategy at Hyundai Motor Group. The new team at Hyundai will develop core technologies that will establish the company as a driving force in urban air mobility, a sector that is expected to grow into a market worth US$1.5 trillion (RM6.28 trillion) within the next 20 years,” Shin said of his new role.

Hyundai says that urban air mobility is expected to be a critically important part of the integrated mobility solution for ever-increasing traffic problems in mega cities around the world. Through its Urban Air Mobility Division, the group aims to provide smart mobility solutions never seen or thought of before.

Shin most recently led the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA, where he shaped the agency’s aeronautics research and development strategy for over 11 years. Hyundai is hoping that his expertise in revolutionary airframe, engine, aviation safety, and air traffic management technologies will allow the company to take a lead in the fast-growing urban air mobility sector. The new business unit will develop core technologies and innovative solutions for safe and efficient airborne travel.

During his time at NASA, Shin oversaw a US$725 million (RM3 billion) program to lead many new aeronautics research initiatives, such as the supersonic X-plane, electrification of aircraft, UAS traffic management and urban air mobility. In addition to his work with NASA, Shin co-chaired the White House National Science and Technology Council’s Aeronautics Science and Technology Subcommittee, which wrote the US’ first presidential policy for aeronautics R&D.

He was also co-chair of the USAF/NASA Executive Research Committee, which facilitated the highest level of coordination of common research needs between US Air Force and NASA Aeronautics. He was also elected to the Chair of the International Forum for Aviation Research (IFAR) for a two-year term in 2014.

Shin has also been awarded the Presidential Rank Award twice (in 2008 and 2016), the highest accolade presented to public officials in the US federal government. A graduate of the Senior Executive Fellowship Program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Shin has authored and co-authored more than 20 technical and journal papers. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society of the UK.

Clearly the highest level of aeronautical expert one can hire. Flying cars to come soon from Hyundai? Laughed off as a joke by many a Malaysian, some of the world’s biggest carmakers and electronics firms are investing big in urban air mobility – Geely is another. A prototype of the Malaysian Vector flying vehicle is expected to be revealed before the year is out.