EASA Proposes New Rules For VTOL Aircraft


The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has released an official opinion proposing new rules for the operation of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft. The proposal includes regulations governing operations, flight crew licensing, rules of the air and air traffic management for crewed, VTOL-capable air taxis. It also looks to establish criteria and processes for the certification and maintenance of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS/drones).

“I am happy to release this Opinion to the European Commission, which is once again the first proposal on this topic to be issued world-wide,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. “With this, we will achieve a harmonised regulatory framework to ensure the safe, sustainable, and secure introduction of VTOL operations.”

Ky noted that the opinion was the final piece required to create a regulatory framework that will enable the launch of VTOL and air taxi services in Europe, emphasizing that manufacturers and operators will still need to get the necessary approvals. As previously reported by AVweb, EASA’s proposed rules for air taxi operation in cities was open for public comment from June to September 2022. The agency also published a proposal for how to assess and limit air taxi noise generation last May.

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Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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    • The problem is that there are no regulations targeting evtols. That’s why they currently can’t be certified for any commercial operation, and only run as experimental/ultralight.

      Especially when running as air taxi in cities for example, there need to be noise regs so that they don’t wake up half of the neighborhood and mich mich more.

      • We already have structural and testing rules for commercial aircraft. We already have rules on noise and airspace.

        It’s begining to sound like people with big investments want to force governments to “make exceptions” for their pet projects.

    • What VTOLs? These aircraft are quite different from aircraft like helicopters and don’t really fit in the existing rotorcraft category. And should the “engine” fail, I doubt these aircraft could autorotate; at least not how a traditional rotorcraft would.

      • Theoretically, with multirotors, the flight control software will deal wit the missing motor/rotor and compensate without issue.

        In reality, the recent crash of Vertical Aerospace’s evtol is a *huge* deal IMHO. (See the avweb story for more) A propeller self-destructing and taking out the power distribution system with shrapnel thus causing a crash has not really been anticipated thusfar. So, do we need armor on the pylons? Ducts that can absorb propeller self-destruction? More resilient propellers? All of that will add substantial cost (or fundamentally change the design parameters).

  1. “…an official opinion proposing…” that’s what it is. European Union, LOL. What a joke. EU is under self destruction with the wonderful “regulations” they are imposing on people. Imagine the same approach assigned to EVs. The circus is on! LOL. They want to officialize what is not even fully developed. Even better! LOL.

    • This misunderstands the purpose of this opinion. The idea is to provide a path to success for evtol manufacturers so they can produce something that will actually be allowed to fly over people and property.

      Opinions included: The EU is doing a great job regulating some things that really could use regulating. USB-C for all chargeable devices? Thank Apple with their “Quelle surprise! A new connector, guess what you get to buy!”… GDPR for data privacy? Thank Facebook with their “Let’s sell everything about our users, even things they’ve marked or said privately!”…

      • “The idea is to provide a path to success for evtol manufacturers ”

        Manufacturers are not playing by the accepted rules of aviation safety, airspace or structures. This (like “climate change”) has a foregone conclusion that requires the bending reason and laws.

        • I don’t disagree that some things the evtol manufacturers are doing is trying to get special carve-outs for them (like autonomous flight), but having a new category created is not one of them. They are fundamentally different than airplanes or rotorcraft, so it makes sense that a new “direct powered lift” category (whatever you want to call it) should be created.

          • Since it uses the same air and carries humans for hire, it has to follow the same basic safety requirements. In fact, it should require more safety requirements based on “autonomous”; not less. New rules must mean additional, not different.