A trio of eVTOL aircraft developers—Embraer, Vertical Aerospace, and Volocopter—have started working together to help the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to develop a concept of operations for urban air mobility services. As part of a consortium that also includes air traffic management specialists NATS and Atech, as well as ground infrastructure group Skyports, the partners will conduct simulated operations to explore the potential to transport passengers between London City Airport and London Heathrow Airport, with several stops at points across the UK capital.
In a January 20 announcement, Embraer said that its Eve Urban Air Mobility Solutions business unit will be leading the consortium. Eve was formed last year, having been spun off from the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer’s EmbraerX technology incubator, which also includes Atech. The two London airports, which are 26 miles from each other on the eastern and western ends of the heavily congested city, are also part of the group formed under the auspices of the CAA’s Future Air Mobility Regulatory Sandbox.
According to the CAA, data from the flight simulations will be used to help the regulator develop rules and operational guidance to ensure airspace safety and acceptable levels of noise for local communities. The project is part of the agency’s Innovation Hub, which was established in April 2019.
“The Regulatory Sandbox was established to create an environment where innovation in aviation can be explored in line with the Civil Aviation Authority’s core principles of safety, security, and consumer protection,” commented David Tait, the CAA’s head of innovation. “This project was selected to join the Sandbox as it will help us to develop a strategic framework for harmonizing the low-level airspace, which will support the development of urban and regional air mobility operations across the UK.”
Since the UK left the European Union, it is no longer a member state of the European Aviation Safety Agency. The CAA has now assumed full regulatory responsibility at a national level.