EASA plans world’s first VTOL urban air taxi rules


The first proposed rules from an aviation regulator governing the operation of VTOL aircraft in cities have been proposed by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The proposed regulatory framework covers the technical topics of airworthiness, air operations, flight crew licensing and rules of the air.

The agency’s executive director Patrick Ky said: “With this, EASA becomes the first aviation regulator worldwide to release a comprehensive regulatory framework for operations of VTOL-capable aircraft, which will offer air taxi and similar services.”

EASA had done its best to address societal concerns and EU citizens expectations about safety, security, privacy, environment and noise, he said. “The publication reinforces the leadership EASA is showing in this area of innovation.”

The proposed rules complement existing EU regulatory material for operations of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), the unmanned traffic management system (U-space) and the certification of aircraft capable of VTOL operations plus EASA guidance on the design of vertiports.

According to an EASA statement: “The overall objective is to foster the development of a new ecosystem for urban air mobility, to achieve the safe and secure integration of certified UAS and VTOL-capable aircraft operations in the EU, and to enable operators to safely operate VTOL-capable aircraft in the single European sky.” 

The proposal was in response to manufacturers in Europe telling EASA that they will be ready for certification of VTOL aircraft in the next few years, said the agency. “These aircraft will enable new air mobility concepts in the framework of the ‘smart, green and digital’ cities initiative led by the European Commission,” it said.

The proposed new regulatory framework is open to public consultation until September 30th, 2022.

Meanwhile, the current proposals do not include autonomous VTOL missions without a human pilot on board. These will be covered in a separate proVposals document “when needed and in line with technological progress”.

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