EASA Proposes Rules for Urban VTOL Air Taxis
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published proposed rules for the operation of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) air taxis in cities. “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,” said EASA executive director Patrick Ky. “We have done our best to address general societal concerns and the expectations of EU citizens with respect to safety, security, privacy, environment, and noise.”
The proposed regulatory framework is open to public consultation until September 30 and covers the technical domains of airworthiness, air operations, flight crew licensing, and rules of the air. It complements existing EU regulatory material for operations of uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS), the unmanned traffic management system known in Europe as U-space, and certification of aircraft capable of VTOL, as well as EASA guidance on the design of vertiports.
Key provisions of the proposed rules include initial limits on the number of vertiports operating in each city, establishing predefined routes and operating altitudes, setting minimum forward visibility requirements of 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) for VFR operations, and limiting operations to those flown by experienced pilots. EASA stressed that predefined routes would provide traffic deconfliction and avoid noise-sensitive areas with the goal of gaining greater public acceptance for the technology.