The FAA is proposing new rules to establish requirements for pilot certification and operation of powered-lift aircraft. Under the proposed regulations, pilots would be required to hold a type rating for each powered-lift model they fly. The rule (PDF) also includes provisions aimed at forming an initial cadre of powered-lift instructors by allowing pilots employed by powered-lift aircraft manufacturers to gain the necessary training and experience through aircraft certification test flights and crew training activities. In addition, the proposal covers alternate eligibility criteria designed to enable pilots holding a commercial pilot certificate and an instrument rating to meet powered-lift flight-time experience requirements faster.
The FAA noted that while there are currently no type-certificated powered-lift vehicles in civil operation, it has received several applications seeking type certificates for aircraft designs that would qualify. Once certified, the agency says it expects powered-lift aircraft to conduct operations such as crew and material transport for offshore oil rigs, air ambulance flights and air taxi services in urban environments. Defined as “heavier-than-air aircraft capable of vertical takeoff, vertical landing, and low speed flight that depends principally on engine-driven lift devices or engine thrust for lift during these flight regimes and on nonrotating airfoil(s) for lift during horizontal flight,” powered-lift models will be certified as special class aircraft under existing regulations.
“New rules are necessary because many of the proposed aircraft take off and land like a helicopter but fly enroute like an airplane,” the FAA said. “The powered-lift proposed rule is designed to provide certainty to pilots and the industry on what the requirements and expectations will be to operate these aircraft once it is finalized.”
The FAA stated that the proposal conforms to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requirements and would therefore allow pilots certified under the proposed rule to operate in other countries. The official notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on June 14, 2023. The proposal will be open for public comment for 60 days following publication.