A first stab at clarifying how electric and hybrid vertical take-off & landing (eVTOL) and conventional electric and hybrid aircraft (eCTOL) will interact in our urban air mobility future was recently made by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). It calls the first eVTOL rule “the first building block to enable the safe operation of hybrid and electrical VTOL aircraft.”
The first eVTOL rules come from the EASA as a “Special Condition” for the certification of eVTOL aircraft.
Image courtesy EVA
This new special condition covers eVTOL aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 3,175 kilograms (7,000 lb) carrying up to 9 passengers and using lift/thrust units for powered lift and control.
EASA 2 eVTOL Special Condition Regulations
The EASA Certification Standard (CS) applies to Normal, Utility, Aerobatic, and Commuter Category Aeroplanes (CS-23 Amendment 5). The Special Condition allows two certification categories — Basic and Enhanced, depending on the aircraft’s intended operations.
For those of you who nurse the idea of one day owning an eVTOL aircraft, demonstrating a few aerial maneuvers away from congested areas and other obvious dangers should get you closer to a license. The owner and aircraft will be required to handle a controlled emergency landing simulating an inflight emergency.
As to mass UAM, eVTOL aircraft used in cities or in commercial service will have to show they can either get back to their destination or perform an alternative landing at a “vertiport.”
Image courtesy Uber Elevate
What Are They Saying About The EASA 2 eVTOL Special Conditions?
According to eVTOL.News, EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said:
“We are actively engaging with the industry to develop the right technical requirements to take benefit of the new technologies bringing safety and environmental benefits to the community. The establishment of a common set of conditions for the certification of these new concepts of vehicles will enable a fair competition on the European market as well as clarity for future manufacturers and their investors.
“We are actively engaging with the industry to develop the right technical requirements to take benefit of the new technologies bringing safety and environmental benefits to the community. The establishment of a common set of conditions for the certification of these new concepts of vehicles will enable a fair competition on the European market as well as clarity for future manufacturers and their investors.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to see those rules starting to show up. It’s about time eVTOL aircraft have legislation for our urban air mobility future.
What About The FAA?
Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell spoke at the “Meet the Boss” event at AirVenture. He explained the rewrite of Part 23 as one of the founding blocks for what will later become the Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certificates (MOSAIC). Dan Elwell commented:
“This is a big one, When congress last year asked us to change the rules so that drone builders could use light-sport style consensus standards, we saw a great opportunity to kick it into high gear.
“For light-sport aircraft, we’ll be able to safely bump up the maximum weight, so that instructors can now have some margin when flying with guys like me who enjoy a little too much brats and beer. They’ll also be able to have four seats and an electric motor.
“For experimentals, if you’re not actually doing experimental work, they’ll likely fit into a more appropriate special airworthiness category. So you can say goodbye to those lovely, big “Experimental” stickers.
“For legacy Part 23 aircraft, an owner of a small plane that is not using it for commercial purposes will be able to exchange the standard airworthiness certificate for a special airworthiness certificate. That means the owner will be able to install lower-cost safety equipment that is widely available in the experimental market without an STC.”
There will be no commercial use and no flights into Canada at first, but the implementation is a “huge priority” as well as important for safety. Lastly, he added:
“For my part, I will be convening a government/GA safety roundtable this fall in Washington. We’ll bring to the table our perspectives on the causes of the injuries in GA fatalities, and we’re going to look for ways to effectively address those problems. Interventions will be targeted and always based on data. We’ll work with you and the industry to voluntarily make the changes that need to be made.
“We need the general aviation community, all of you, to step up with that can-do attitude to work with us and industry to figure this out, and turn it around.”