Air Taxi, Regulation, Unmanned

Volocopter Receives First eVTOL Design Organization Approval from EASA

By Brian Garrett-Glaser | December 11, 2019
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Volocopter received the first company-wide approval from EASA to design eVTOL aircraft. (Photo: Volocoter)

Volocopter received Design Organization Approval (DOA) from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), becoming the first aerospace company focused on electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft to do so in the process.

Granted after a series of company-wide audits, Volocopter’s DOA is verification from EASA that the company has the right procedures, competencies and resources, and is performing its operations in a controlled and safe manner. Any organization that designs or repairs aircraft or aircraft parts needs to demonstrate this to EASA, either by holding a DOA approval, having specific procedures that act as an alternative to a DOA, or by providing EASA with a certification program for a specific project, according to EASA’s website.

While the DOA certification route is not required for a company to certify its aircraft with EASA, it is a recognition by the agency that Volocopter’s processes are sound enough to warrant expedited certification, allowing the company to perform design activities within the scope of approval, have compliance documents accepted by EASA without further verification and perform certain activities independently from the agency, according to EASA. Volocopter bills the certification as giving them a “competitive edge in development speed, while guaranteeing the highest safety standards,” according to the company’s press release.

Though Volocopter’s initial DOA is likely limited in scope, the organization intends to continuously expand it via further audits and interactions with EASA.

“There are a couple different ways that you can get to the finish line, and this is one of them,” said Rex Alexander, infrastructure advisor at the Vertical Flight Society. “A DOA improves your chances … some of the inspection requirements can be done in-house because the company has proven to EASA that they’ve met a certain standard in terms of process and safety. They’re not just doing this on a wing and a prayer, so to speak.”

Other companies with DOA approvals from EASA include Airbus S.A.S., Dassault Aviation, BAE Systems and Leonardo S.p.A.

“We are also working towards achieving our DOA and continue to appreciate the support shown to the sector by EASA,” a representative for Lilium, another European eVTOL startup, told Avionics International. “We’ll provide more information on our progress at a later date but we remain on track to achieve all relevant certifications in time to reach our stated goal of starting commercial service in 2025.”

For EASA, this approval is yet another “first” in the industry; earlier this summer, the agency published its Special Condition VTOL, the world’s first certification baseline for electric VTOL aircraft, under which Volocopter plans to certify its VoloCity aircraft.

“Awarding the first DOA with a scope of work for VTOL is a milestone for the industry. We are happy about the successful cooperation and the fact that our safety standards are now part of the rising eVTOL market,” said Patrick Ky, executive director of EASA.

Volocopter receives its DOA from EASA. (Photo: Volocopter)

The FAA has not yet implemented its equivalent of DOA for any manufacturers, according to an agency representative, though delegation of elements of the design and certification process “has been a vital part of our safety system since the 1920s,” she added. “Our delegation program is similar to organizational programs used in Europe and other countries, and therefore helps the United States maintain a level playing field with competitors.”

“This is a key step in certifying the Volocopter VoloCity,” said Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the Vertical Flight Society. “DOA is essential for a company to gain certification for airworthiness, production, operations, etc. in an expeditious manner. It shows that Volocopter has approached certification in a serious and comprehensive way.”

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