FAA Promises Flexibility In EVTOL Certification


Lirio Liu, the FAA’s new executive director of aircraft certification, tried to soothe concerns of the burgeoning urban mobility industry with a pledge for flexibility in certifying the new aircraft. Liu told the Revolution Aero conference in San Francisco on Monday that there is room in the current regs to accommodate new technologies and the agency will do its best to use that flexibility to keep the industry moving forward. “Despite regulatory gaps … our ongoing certification work is possible because we can leverage our current regulatory framework,” Liu said. “We have flexibilities in that framework. We don’t always use them, but we’re getting better and better at doing that.”

The remarks came four months after the agency announced it was changing direction in certification of new eVTOLs and other urban mobility designs. Instead of certifying them under the Part 23 rules used for most small airplanes, the agency announced it would instead consider them under its 21.17(b) “special class” provisions. “Those frameworks will allow us to have technical policy specialists to develop project-specific regulatory requirements tailored to the unique aspects and the new designs we’re seeing,” she said. “These flexibilities can come in the form of special conditions or unique airworthiness criteria which we call a special class.”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Now if we could just get her to deal with MOSAIC in as timely a fashion !!

    Show her the PB video on G100UL and tell her to … “Get with the program!”

    Or is THAT “Ex Parte,” too ?

  2. Bet you the “special procedures” last as long as the first crash. After that it will be the full 737 Max plus a bit….
    Lawyers must be loving it.

  3. Somebody needs to take the Uber approach and just start flying things around. Break all the rules, get public support from whinging young people, and start making money for Wall Street.
    I can’t believe those jerks got away with it, but it seems they found the only effective way to fight government oppression. I guess it’s an age thing because I grew up clueless, had a brief grasp on the way things work (perhaps illusory), and now I fade back into cluelessness.
    Funny thing, Uber itself is now an institution and can’t do it again. I know that much.

  4. Electric taxis that have charge for 10 minutes at best. Wonder who has the balls or the lack of common sense to fly in these coffins. Rubber bands may be a more environmental solution than the batteries.

  5. If there “is room in the regs for new technologies”, why did it take 11 years to approve G100 UL? It’s a little hard to believe her, knowing the FAA’s history.