The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

FutureFlight Weekly News Roundup

Supernal Executive Mike Whitaker Confirmed as FAA Administrator

Supernal’s chief operating officer, Mike Whitaker, will be the new FAA Administrator after the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to approve his nomination by the Biden Administration. The appointment has been widely welcomed by aviation groups, and especially by eVTOL aircraft developers, who have express optimism that Whitaker’s experience with Hyundai’s advanced air mobility subsidiary, Supernal, will provide a boost for efforts to achieve type certification, as hoped, by the end of 2025.

Prior to joining Supernal in April 2020, Whitaker ran his own consultancy. He had previously spent just over three years with the FAA as its deputy administrator and chief NextGen officer, and earlier was with United Airlines for almost 15 years as its senior vice president for alliances, international and regulatory affairs. It has been almost 19 months since the U.S. air safety agency had a permanent administrator, and the incumbent faces multiple challenges in trying to get key programs back on track.

VoltAero Receives Design Award for Hybrid-electric Cassio Aircraft

The French Institute of Design (Institut Français du Design) has awarded the 2023 Janus Label of Excellence to French aircraft developer VoltAero for the clean-sheet design of its Cassio family of hybrid-electric aircraft. 

VoltAero was recognized for its unique airframe configuration, which features a forward fixed canard and an aft wing with twin booms supporting a high-set T-tail stabilizer. The aircraft’s hybrid-electric powertrain can run entirely on battery power, with the combustion engine serving as both a range extender and a backup for the electrical propulsion system. 

VoltAero's Cassio hybrid-electric aircraft
VoltAero's Cassio hybrid-electric aircraft has received a French design award. (image: VoltAero)

Jetson One Personal eVTOL Approved for Flight in Italy

Jetson says it has received a permit from Italy’s air safety regulators allowing pilots to fly the company’s Jetson One personal eVTOL aircraft in uncontrolled airspace. According to Jetson, this is the first time an ultralight eVTOL aircraft has been approved for use in Italy. 

Meanwhile, the Sweden-based company says it has also recently received authorization from the Italian Civil Aviation Authority to fly the single-seat aircraft remotely with no pilot on board. This authorization “allows us to gradually expand the flight envelope of the Jetson One, all without exposing a test-pilot to potential risk when we explore the limits of the vehicle,” said Jetson CEO Stephan D'haene. 

Jetson One personal eVTOL vehicle.
Jetson says that its Jetson One single-seat personal eVTOL vehicle has been approved under ultralight rules in Italy. (Image: Jetson)

Pal-V Says Liberty Flying Car Deliveries Will Start in Late 2024

Pal-V this week committed to making first deliveries of its Liberty Pioneer Edition flying car in the fourth quarter of 2024. The Dutch company told AIN the vehicle will be certified under EASA’s CS27 rules covering small rotorcraft and also European L5E regulations covering road use.

In addition to use for private travel, Pal-V expects to see the Liberty deployed for applications such as law enforcement and emergency medical response, plus security, peace-keeping and military missions. The company says it holds 80 preorders from sales operations across 10 countries. Existing partners and customers include Kuwait Airways and GKN Aerospace, as well as maintenance provider Primus Aero and SkyAngels Air Ambulance.

With a base price of €299,000, the Liberty will takeoff and land from airfields or private property, if that is permitted by local regulations. Customers receive training for a gyroplane license at Pal-V’s FlyDrive Academy, completing six modules each lasting five days, that include practical instruction and theory. 

PAL-V's Liberty flying car
Pal-V says it will start delivering its Liberty flying car in the fourth quarter of 2024. (Image: Pal-V)

FAA Approves Public-use Vertiport at Army Airfield in Virginia

Earlier this month, the FAA gave conditional approval for what will be the first licensed public-use vertiport in the U.S.: a new facility at Blackstone Army Airfield in Virginia. Local air navigation services company Navos Air has advocated for the vertiport at the dual-use military-civil airport and the project is being partly funded by the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation.

When completed and licensed, the vertiport will initially be used for research and trial eVTOL and drone operations. Blackstone is about 60 miles southwest of Richmond, Virginia.