On The Radar
EASA this week published proposed rules governing the operation of new eVTOL air taxi services in cities. The proposed regulatory framework, which the European aviation safety agency says is the first of its kind in the world, is now open for public consultation through Sept. 30, 2022.
The rules outlined in the 295-page Notice of Proposed Amendment 2022-06 cover technical aspects of eVTOL services including airworthiness, air operations, flight crew licensing, and the rules of the air. According to EASA, they will complement existing European Union regulatory materials covering the operation of uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) and the so-called U-space uncrewed air traffic management system. They also draw on EASA’s latest special conditions rules for the certification and airworthiness approval of new VTOL aircraft, and existing guidance on the design of vertiports.
EASA is mindful that some eVTOL aircraft developers want to be ready to launch commercial air taxi services in cities such as Paris, London, and Munich as early as 2024. While not specifically committing to having an approval process firmed up by then, the Cologne-based agency acknowledged that the urban air mobility (UAM) pioneers aim to be ready for certification “in the next few years” and that the new aircraft will “enable new air mobility concepts in the framework of the ‘smart, green, and digital’ cities initiative led by the European Commission.”
EASA says its overall objective for the emerging UAM ecosystem is that new eVTOL aircraft can be safely and securely integrated to operate in the same airspace in European cities. It has not yet indicated when the final rule will be published and implemented.
“With this, EASA becomes the first aviation regulator worldwide to release a comprehensive regulatory framework for operations of VTOL-capable aircraft, which will offer air taxi and similar services,” said EASA executive director Patrick Ky. “This publication reinforces the leadership EASA is showing in this area of innovation. At the same time, we have done our best to address general societal concerns and the expectations of EU citizens with respect to safety, security, privacy, environment, and noise.”