The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has published its special condition regarding the development and certification process for VTOL aircraft. The announcement clarifies some of the questions surrounding the required level of certification and safety in the development process for VTOLs, especially ones intended for usage in urban air mobility.
The condition, opened for public consultation in October 2018, specifically regards VTOL aircraft in the “small” category. According to the EASA, a VTOL in the “small” category can seat up to nine passengers and has a maximum certified takeoff mass of 3,175 kg (7000 lb) using lift/thrust units to generate powered lift and control. Any VTOL fitting the above terms is subject to the specific development and certification framework listed in the Special Condition.
The Special Condition also directly links the level of airworthiness requirements for a VTOL aircraft to its intended type of operations. Separated into two categories, Basic and Enhanced, the Enhanced category will apply to “operations in which passengers are being flown on a for-hire basis over congested areas with a view to protecting third parties, including people on the ground”. The Basic category will refer to non-commercial flights over uncongested areas, which will naturally entail lighter requirements of the VTOL.
According to the EASA, the new Special Condition for VTOLs will be “the first building block” to enable the safe operation of VTOL aircraft. “We are actively engaging with the industry to develop the right technical requirements to take benefit of the new technologies bringing safety and environmental benefits to the community,” said EASA executive director Patrick Ky. “The establishment of a common set of conditions for the certification of these new concepts of vehicles will enable a fair competition on the European market, as well as clarity for future manufacturers and their investors.”
You can find the full document published by the EASA here
Why it’s important: The new special condition is EASA’s firm set of rules directly regarding the development process for VTOL aircraft. Although some argue that the requirements may have been set forth too early, they provide clarity to the development teams of various different VTOLs, and a clear understanding for manufacturers, investors, and the public.
Sources // EASA Website