Commercial, Regulation

Industry Talks EVTOL With European Regulators

By Frank Wolfe | November 16, 2018
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The Rolls-Royce electric hybrid EVTOL conceptual design unveiled at Farnborough 2018. Image courtesy of Rolls Royce

Thirty corporate officials from eight countries met with European regulators this week in Cologne and Brussels to discuss the needs of the burgeoning electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (EVTOL) sector, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).

Dorothee Bär, the German Federal State Minister for Digitization, a major advocate of urban air mobility in Europe, joined in the dialogue with corporate officials and those from the European Aviation Safety Agency, the European Commission, and the Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU).

Bär praised the efforts of industry and EASA to develop common standards and said that “there is tremendous potential for Europe and beyond, once urban air mobility will become part of our daily life.”

GAMA said that the discussions are a key part of its efforts to increase automation, autonomy and de-carbonization in aviation. GAMA said that it is focused on the safe introduction of new technologies while “making flying more accessible to the general public.”

“Air taxis” under the urban air mobility concept “offer extremely quiet, green operations for a wide array of uses,” GAMA said. “Discussions focused on the regulatory framework needed for the safe and sustainable integration of these vehicles into Europe’s airspace. Topics raised include certification, maintenance, operations, licensing and the development of U-Space (unmanned traffic management).”

Companies around the world have worked with GAMA over the past year to address the support structures needed for EVTOL.

Anna Dietrich, the co-chair of GAMA’s EVTOL subcommittee and co-founder of Terrafugia, said in a statement that “leveraging the body of existing rules and standards wherever possible while appropriately addressing the new aspects of this industry will help us efficiently achieve our shared goals for safe, innovative vehicles that provide significant value to society.”

The subcommittee met with Trevor Woods, the EASA certification director, and other top EASA officials.

The United States appears to be moving in tandem with Europe on easing the movement of innovations, such as EVTOL, into the mainstream. “I want to create an innovation incubator inside the FAA,” Daniel Elwell, the acting administrator of the FAA, told the Aero Club of Washington, D.C., Nov. 5. “It’ll separate out early innovation from real-time operations so that good ideas don’t die on the vine.”

This article was originally published in Rotor & Wing International, a sister publication to Avionics.

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