The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has adopted a framework plan for battery electric and hybrid electric vertical take-off aircraft in Europe: With the “Special Condition”, the designers now have the first specifications for this group of aircraft.
The regulations currently in force simply do not account for the modern electric vertical take-off aircraft. The regulation was originally designed for fixed-wing aircraft, rotary-wing aircraft, balloons and gliders. The (partially) electric aircraft, which use their large rotors for take-off and landing as well as for flight operations, do not fall under any of these definitions – and could therefore only take off with a special certification. The new framework should now pave the way for simpler use of vertical take-off aircraft.
This will give companies a framework in which aircraft can be certified in Europe in the future – and thus give them a certain degree of investment security. In the specifications, EASA defines the new “Small Category” class, which includes vertical take-off air taxis (VTOL). Up to nine passengers are to be permitted; the maximum take-off weight is 3,175 kilograms. A subdivision into the certification categories “Basic” and “Enhanced” is also planned.
Flight taxis will fall under the latter category, as only these aircraft will be allowed to fly over urban areas. The “Enhanced” rules must also be applied to the carriage of passengers. If necessary, the rules could be adapted to local conditions, according to EASA. In addition, a uniform standard is being worked on with international partners. The experience gained from the VTOL rules should also be incorporated into this standard.