The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has unveiled a proposal detailing regulations for air taxis and similar next-gen aerial vehicles. Awaiting review and potential incorporation into law by the EU's executive body, this proposal is termed as Opinion 03/2023.
EASA's proposition encompasses a range of areas, from operational rules for such vehicles to air traffic management and certification procedures for pilots and crew. Furthermore, the proposal also addresses vertiport designs and aligns them with the broader EU airspace regulations called SERA.
A comparison with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)'s "Innovate28" plan, launched in July, shows numerous similarities, especially in terms of phasing in air taxis and other futuristic aerial services. However, while the FAA's strategy serves as a foundation for future directives, EASA's Opinion 03/2023 outlines the direct regulations which such service providers would need to adhere to, subject to modifications by the EU Commission.
EASA has also introduced new terminologies within this proposal. The commonly used 'advanced air mobility' will be replaced by EASA’s "innovative air mobility (IAM)", referring to air taxis and drones used for transporting goods and passengers. Within the IAM umbrella, there's also "urban air mobility (UAM)" for operations in urban settings and "non-urban air mobility (NAM)" for areas outside city limits. Notably, while IAM classified flights might function under NAM, the vice versa won't be allowed.
The terminology "vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL)" typically used for next-gen vehicles like air taxis is being replaced by "VTOL-capable aircraft (VCA)" in the EASA document.
EASA's comprehensive proposal aims to ensure safety standards are met for these new aerial vehicles while also supporting innovation in the sector. The framework also emphasizes on harmonizing regulations across the EU and considers aspects like personal data protection, security, and overall safety.