Mike Hirschberg, Executive Director, the Vertical Flight Society, has written a powerful article highlighting the challenges facing US eVTOL manufacturers following the decision by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that winged eVTOLs that met the FAA’s definition of “powered-lift could not be certified or operate as “airplanes”.
“This meant that certification for winged eVTOL aircraft would have to be done through Title 14 (“Aeronautics and Space”) of the US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Section 21.17(b)”, writes Hirschberg. “This was a 180-degree change in direction from the path the FAA had been leading the industry down for the preceding several years…..In contrast to nearly a decade of collaboration with industry to address the certification of eVTOL aircraft, this decision blindsided the eVTOL industry and was reached in isolation, without any dialog or input.
“In remarks to the FAA-EASA safety conference in mid-June, Acting Administrator Nolen stated the FAA’s intent to be able to certify eVTOL by 2024 — suggesting a clear operational path would be made available before that time. In parallel, the FAA must coordinate these changes with the US Department of Transportation (DoT) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) — actions the Administrator’s office should be doing now.
“The good news is that there is now an accepted means of certification for winged eVTOL aircraft, and the agency has publicly stated that it intends to support the aggressive timelines that the eVTOL companies have been working towards — with Joby Aviation in pole position for operations planned to begin in 2024, and several other winged eVTOL aircraft close behind.
“Now comes the hard part. It has often taken the agency a decade to create new rules. The FAA must now move at speeds it has seldom ever achieved in the past. If it fails, the US will lose its leadership in eVTOL, and the rest of the world will move forward without it, much like what happened in the drone industry two decades ago. “
The article can be read in full: