The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has put forth its opinion on how to ensure that vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL), including electric VTOLs (eVTOL) and urban air taxis, could be operated safely within the European Union (EU).
The EASA notes that the aerospace industry has been developing various “operational concepts based on innovative technologies, like unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)” as well as eVTOLs. However, it remarks that this has “reinforced the impetus for the creation of new air mobility concepts in the framework of the ‘smart, green and digital’ cities initiative led by the European Commission [EC] under the ‘Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy’”.
As such, the regulator has put forth amendments to existing regulations, while also adding new ones to the EC.
Firstly, EASA’s opinion addresses the initial airworthiness of UAS subject to certification in accordance with current EU regulations. Secondly, the agency wanted to address the continuing airworthiness of UAS, which would be “subject to certification and operated in the ‘specific’ category”.
Lastly, EASA is proposing to implement “operational requirements applicable to manned VTOL-capable aircraft (VCA)”.
“I am happy to release this Opinion to the European Commission, which is once again the first proposal on this topic to be issued world-wide,” Patrick Ky, EASA’s Executive Director, said on August 31, 2023.
According to Ky, EASA’s opinion will help the EU achieve “harmonised regulatory framework to ensure the safe, sustainable, and secure introduction of VTOL operations”.
“Once this has passed into law, individual manufacturers and operators will of course need to obtain all the required approvals from various authorities, but the framework rules for these operations will be complete,” Ky concluded, adding that this will be the last piece of regulation to help launch eVTOL other urban air vehicle rules within the EU.
Ky’s second five-year term expired on September 1, 2023, when he was replaced by the current Acting Executive Director, Luc Tytgat.
Meanwhile, the United States (US) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has introduced its own plan on how to integrate eVTOLs and Urban Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) vehicles into US airspace.
The FAA’s rules will “serve as a foundation for making entry into service routine and predictable by maximizing the use of existing procedures and infrastructure“.