EASA Ready to Adopt Final Regulations for eVTOL Operations

(Image: EASA)

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has proposed rules for safe operations of electric vertical take-off and Landing aircraft (eVTOL), paving the way for these innovative aircraft to take to the skies in European cities. EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky released the agency's proposed rules for eVTOL operations to the European Commission last week, noting it is the "first proposal on this topic to be issued worldwide."

“This is the last piece of regulation required to enable the launch of VTOL and air taxi services for Innovative Air Mobility,” Ky said. “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.”

The Opinion introduces a comprehensive set of operational requirements for piloted electric air taxis, spanning the domains of operations, flight crew licensing, rules of the air and air traffic management. The proposed rules also establish criteria and processes for the certification and maintenance of drones. EASA initially published the proposed rules last year, to allow for public comments from June to September 2022.

Once adopted, EASA’s Opinion will complement already existing EU regulations and guidance material for operations of unmanned aircraft, specifications for vertiport design, unmanned traffic management known in Europe as U-space, and the certification of VTOL-capable aircraft.

The release of the proposal is the latest in a series of steps EASA has taken to integrate eVTOL aircraft into civilian European airspace operations. As an example, the agency has already been collaborating with several eVTOL developers on the certification plans associated with their aircraft, including Lilium, the German eVTOL maker that reported it had submitted 100 percent of its certification basis requirements to EASA in April.

EASA's proposed rules are similar to the policy the FAA has outlined for its own regulation of eVTOL aircraft in U.S. airspace, with some key differences. For example, while EASA is using the ≤ 10-9 standard that the industry is used to satisfying for safety-critical systems on civilian aircraft, the FAA is using ≤ 10-7 for "Class II" aircraft and ≤ 10-8 for "Class III" aircraft.