Federal Aviation Administration Vertical Flight Policy Statement

 - November 26, 2007, 11:10 AM

The U.S. has the finest aviation system in the world. As we enter the 21st century, a major challenge for the FAA will be to maintain its global preeminence in civil aviation in an era of increasing traffic volume and major technological advancements. To meet this challenge the FAA is modernizing the National Airspace System (NAS) and associated regulations. Central to this effort is the development of the NAS architecture.

Traffic demand in the airway system is expected to grow faster than our ability to provide additional capacity through conventional means. Unless these conditions are addressed expeditiously, the consequences for the air-transport industry and traveling public will be higher cost, diminished safety, greater inconvenience and declining quality of service.

Both civil and military aviation are introducing new-technology vertical flight aircraft with performance characteristics that are significantly different from existing aircraft, and offer the capability of increasing system capacity. The NAS architecture will accommodate these new technologies.

Ensuring the safe and efficient use of vertical flight technology, accommodating national defense needs, providing system capacity commensurate with demand and improving emergency and disaster relief services are integral elements of the agency’s mission and are essential to carrying out its responsibilities.

Modern vertical flight aircraft technology, including advanced rotorcraft as well as tiltrotor aircraft, when coupled with advances in the NAS, offers unprecedented opportunities for aviation system efficiency improvement and will enable safe all-weather transportation and emergency services.

Therefore, it is the policy of the FAA to support vertical flight technology development and its use within the NAS through new and broader program initiatives with overall goals to:
• Improve safety in all aspects of vertical flight operations.

• Ensure that the NAS has the ability to take maximum advantage of the unique capabilities of vertical flight aircraft.

• Ensure that the FAA regulates and certifies vertical flight aircraft, operations and airmen in a manner that promotes safety, while enabling efficient operations for both fixed-wing and vertical flight aircraft.

To meet these goals, the FAA will, within the NAS, conduct research to ensure the safe and efficient operation of vertical flight aircraft, while minimizing the environmental impact on communities. This includes:
• Increasing NAS capacity through simultaneous, noninterfering operations by fixed-wing and vertical flight aircraft.

• Developing vertical flight aircraft separation standards and approach and departure standards commensurate with aircraft and NAS performance.

• Enabling all-weather operations capability for vertical flight aircraft.

• Ensuring that regulatory and institutional barriers will not impede implementation of new vertical flight aircraft.

• Working closely with industry, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Defense, as appropriate, to expedite the operational implementation of new vertical flight technology.

• Working with other federal agencies, industry, and state and local governments to assure that vertical flight programs are appropriately executed.

• Conducting systems analysis to assess potential benefits and costs of increased use of vertical flight technology.

• Encouraging the development of heliports and vertiports to improve public transportation and relieve airport congestion.

• Participating in selected vertical flight demonstration programs sponsored by industry or state and local governments.

• Implementing air traffic control, navigation, and instrument approach services for vertical flight aircraft when these services are determined to be beneficial and are supported by system users.

• Working cooperatively with international standards organizations to assure harmonization of NAS standards and vertical flight aircraft and airmen regulatory standards.

The unique capabilities of modern vertical flight aircraft, when combined with strategically located landing facilities and advanced operating procedures, will provide significant  opportunities to improve transportation services to the public. The FAA is committed to pursuing these opportunities.