Flying taxis: UK CAA determines safety certification standards for new eVTOLs

The UK has determined safety certification standards for new electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, a step that it says will help UK manufacturers of such vehicles.  

In a statement on June 16, 2022, the UK Civil Authority (CAA) said it will use the same certification standards used by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), known as Special Conditions-VTOL (SC-VTOL). 

The CAA said that these Special Conditions allow manufacturers and the CAA to develop safety requirements when new technologies come to market and will provide the basis for approval of such technologies. 

“The decision to adopt SC-VTOL as our certification basis will support UK manufacturers and enable them to easily access the global market for eVTOL aircraft,” commented Rob Bishton, Group Director for safety and airspace regulation, in a press release.    

Achieving certification for new technologies for the fledgling urban air mobility market, popularly referred to as flying taxis, is one of the major hurdles for manufacturers.  

British manufacturer Vertical Aerospace, which is working on a four-seater eVTOL known as the VX4, welcomed the UK CAA announcement.   

“The UK confirming these high standards of safety for new electric aircraft is a pivotal and positive step towards building a world leading zero emissions aircraft manufacturer in Britain,” Michael Cervenka, President of Vertical, commented in a statement on June 17, 2022. “It is vital that passengers and the public have the same trust in eVTOLs as in today’s passenger planes, as we try to make flying faster, smarter, and greener.” 

Vertical added that it expects to reach several critical certification milestones in the coming months, with the VX4’s test flight program beginning in Summer 2022.  

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Founder and CEO of Vertical, added: “Vertical Aerospace has already been striving to meet the highest possible safety standards for our aircraft, and we warmly welcome this decision. We look forward to continuing our work with the CAA to make eVTOLs safe for all consumers and bring the VX4 to the skies.” 

Regulators across the world are looking at how new aircraft can be best integrated with existing commercial air traffic and ensure safety for consumers. 

The acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commented this week that keeping aviation safe amidst a new wave of technology was paramount. “If aviation isn’t safe, then it doesn’t matter how exciting it is; or what the promised benefits are,” Billy Nolen said at the 2022 FAA-European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) International Aviation Safety Conference.  

 

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