Earlier this week, the FAA released the airworthiness/certification criteria for Joby’s JAS4-1 eVTOL prototype and candidate for commercialization. This is the first of its kind and provides the public with a detailed certification plan for eVTOL platforms of the future.
The document draws its criteria largely from Part 23 for certification of fixed-wing general aviation aircraft, but also takes content from Part 33 for engines and Part 35 for propellers. The FAA also introduced new criteria specific to eVTOL because “no existing standard captured the powered-lift [aircraft’s] transitional flight modes.”
The certification basis considers various flight modes, configurations, and electric engine performance standards. For this, the FAA developed new criteria for safe flight and landing in the event of a loss of power to ensure the vehicle maintains adequate performance. The FAA is also considering new regulations for bird strike avoidance and protection as eVTOL aircraft are quieter than traditional fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.
It is expected Joby’s JAS4-1 will be certified to existing safety level criteria for Part 23 (probability of catastrophic failure on the scale of 10-7 or 10-8). It’s also known that Joby’s aircraft will not be held to the 10-9 safety level used on commercial aircraft by the FAA, but may face such a requirement with EASA.
A copy of the basis is available for viewing here.
Why it matters: Earlier this year, the FAA changed its certification basis for eVTOL aircraft. Rather than certifying under Part 23 alongside most general aviation fixed-wing aircraft, eVTOL platforms will be certified in their own special class. Joby has an advantage being the first in this category; as this may allow the company to help shape the criteria for all certified eVTOL platforms. Expect revisions to this document as the public and industry stakeholders provide comments for consideration.