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EASA proposes rules for VTOL operations, including air taxis

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The European Union Aviation Safety Agency proposed regulations for the safe operation of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, which includes air taxis. This has opened the way for the use of these cutting-edge aircraft in European cities.

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The Opinion presents a thorough set of operational standards for piloted electric air taxis, including the operational, flight crew licensing, aviation law, and air traffic control domains. The proposed regulations also provide standards and procedures for drone maintenance and certification.

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The Opinion proposes amendments to existing EU aviation regulations and the establishment of two new ones to address:

  • the initial airworthiness of UAS subject to certification in accordance with Article 40 of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945;
  • the continuing airworthiness of UAS subject to certification and operated in the ‘specific’ category; and
  • the operational requirements applicable to manned VTOL-capable aircraft (VCA).

The specific objectives of the proposed amendments are to:

  • ensure a high and uniform level of safety for UAS subject to certification and operated in the ‘specific’ category and for operations with manned VCA;
  • enable operators to safely operate manned VCA in the single European sky (SES);
  • create the conditions for the safe operation of UAS and of manned VCA in the U-space airspace;
  • promote innovation and development in the field of innovative air mobility (IAM) while establishing an efficient, proportionate, and well-designed regulatory framework, free of burdensome requirements that could hinder the development of the UAS market;
  • harmonise the regulatory framework across the EU Member States by enhancing clarity, filling the gaps, and removing the inconsistencies that are inherent to fragmented regulatory systems;
  • foster an operation-centric, proportionate, as well as risk- and performance-based regulatory framework, considering important aspects such as privacy, personal data protection, security, and safety.

Once implemented, this Opinion will add to the already existing EU guidelines and rules for unmanned aircraft operations, vertiport design requirements, unmanned traffic management, or U-space in Europe, and the certification of VTOL-capable aircraft.