Workhorse’s SureFly prototype is now taking its next step towards functional operation – applying for a Federal Aviation Administration Type Certificate.
The FAA certifies aircraft based on a number of factors, and in some case it is not necessary for a completely new Type Certificate for an aircraft to be issued if that aircraft shares similarities with a currently existing aircraft of the same manufacturer. In the case of similar aircraft, an Amended Type Certificate would be required for legal certification of the aircraft in the United States.
However, since the SureFly is unlike anything the FAA has certified before, it must satisfy the requirements of a new Type Certificate.
The challenges that will face both the FAA and Workhorse don’t stop at applying the same standards that have been used for the past 30 years to the SureFly, though – since the SureFly is not a conventional aircraft, rotorcraft, or lighter-than-air vehicle (like the Goodyear blimp) a new set of certification standards will need to be developed that are directly pertinent to the SureFly. Until these standards are developed, it would be useless to attempt to apply the same standards of fixed-wing aircraft to the SureFly for certification.
Why it’s important: Workhorse’s move to apply for a Type Certificate with the FAA for the SureFly marks the first manufacturer to begin the certification process with the FAA using a vehicle that differs from conventional aircraft or helicopters. Serious players in the flying car and taxi industry should and most likely are monitoring the progress of SureFly’s certification path to learn lessons and make design choices that are conducive to clear demonstration of satisfactory performance traits that satisfy the FAA’s requirements. Finally, the FAA will also be challenged to innovate and determine a new set of certification standards for a new class of aircraft, which for many at the agency will be a completely new endeavor.
Read about the first flight of SureFly here.
- The Shepherd