The European Union Aviation Safety Agent (EASA) said today that it has taken a first step to enable the safe operation of hybrid and electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
Today’s action provides the framework for development of small VTOL “heavier-than-air aircraft … with lift-thrust units used to generate powered lift and control,” EASA said. The category represents VTOL aircraft having a maximum certified takeoff mass of up to 3,175 kg (7,000 lb) and capable of carrying as many as nine people.
“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,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said.
EASA noted that the existing regulatory framework has been designed for conventional airplanes, rotorcraft and balloons (most of which have engines that use fossil fuels), as well as sailplanes. “The introduction of new technologies and concepts of air transport requires [us] to revisit this framework,” EASA said.
The agency said it is working with advisory groups on new rulemaking that will amend existing rules or develop new ones to address issues associated with new technologies “with the objective to be agile and to adapt the regulatory framework in line with performance-based regulations principles.”