The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

EASA Set to Release VTOL Special Conditions Means of Compliance

EASA has reaffirmed its commitment to publishing the means of compliance for eVTOL aircraft developers seeking type certification under its Special Conditions VTOL regulations before the end of 2020. The European agency says that in mid November it will release eight video presentations covering different aspects of the means of compliance, and will then give stakeholders the chance to raise questions during the EASA Rotorcraft and VTOL Symposium on December 9.

According to EASA, the video presentations will cover the following eight aspects of the means of compliance:

  • Setting the scene–an update on the regulatory framework to enable electric and hybrid VTOL operations in Europe and as well as the global airworthiness standards covering other regions
  • The advance release of EASA’s position on the required energy reserves for eVTOL aircraft
  • Details on requirements covering interaction systems and structures, design and component loads, structural durability, aeroelasticity, protection of structures, materials, and processes, and special safety factors
  • Flight envelopes and stall characteristics
  • Human factors, the applicability of 1302 criteria, flight crew compartments, physical environment for occupants, information on equipment installation and operations, instruments, control markings, and placards
  • Landing gear systems, doors, canopies, and exits
  • Ditching, flotation, safety equipment, means of egress, and emergency exits
  • Fire protection in designated fire zones

The revised plan for releasing the means of compliance follows last week’s postponement of the European Rotors trade show, which had been due to be staged in Cologne, Germany, on November 10-12. This event, which was jointly organized by EASA and the European Helicopter Association, was to have included the symposium during which the means of compliance document would have been presented. Instead, the symposium will now be held in a virtual format for which registration is free.

During last week’s Vertical Flight Society Forum 76 conference, David Solar, EASA’s head of vertical takeoff and landing, explained that the Special Condition VTOL incorporates aspects of the existing CS-23 and CS-27 regulations and is composed of high-level objectives intended to be supported by means of compliance. In tandem, EASA intends to issue special conditions covering the associated electric and hybrid propulsion systems for these new aircraft. He said that EASA officials have been working closely with standards organization Eurocae’s WG-112 working group to refine the means of compliance.

According to Solar, EASA and the industry have moved quite quickly on requirements for airworthiness and vehicle design. However, he acknowledged that quite a lot more work needs to be done on the operational aspects of service entry for eVTOL aircraft. He told the industry that “more visibility” is needed, for instance, as to how autonomous operations might be safely permitted in the context of issues such as unmanned traffic management.

The European Rotors show has been rescheduled for November 16-18, 2021.

This story was updated on October 16 after EASA moved the date for the Rotorcraft and VTOL Symposium to December 9 (from November 12).