In a recent statement to Reuters, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it had shifted course on its approach to approving pilots of future electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOLs) but does not expect it would delay certification or operational approvals.
Reuters reports that the FAA said it was modifying its regulatory approach because regulations designed for traditional airplanes and helicopters “did not anticipate the need to train pilots to operate powered-lift, which take off in helicopter mode, transition into airplane mode for flying, and then transition back to helicopter mode for landing.”
In its statement the FAA said it would pursue “a predictable framework that will better accommodate the need to train and certify the pilots who will operate these novel aircraft. “The flexibility”, the FAA added, “will eliminate the need for special conditions and exemptions.”
Because “eVTOL aircraft have been touted as air taxis that could be the future of urban air mobility,” says Reuters “the low-altitude urban air mobility aircraft has drawn a huge amount of interest around the world as numerous eVTOL companies have gone public.”
Reuters reports that Pete Bunce, who heads the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), said in an email the FAA decision is “in our minds detrimental to safety, and increases the workload on the FAA dramatically. This is bad policy for so many reasons.”
The FAA on its part said its process “for certifying the aircraft themselves remains unchanged. All of the development work done by current applicants remains valid and the changes in our regulatory approach should not delay their projects.”
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