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DoT OIG report highlights FAA regulatory challenges in developing AAM rules

Regulatory, management, and communication issues hindered FAA’s progress in certifying AAM aircraft, and challenges remain,” was the name of a report published by the US Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General, published on June 21, 2023.

“Given their unique features, AAM aircraft do not fully fit into FAA’s existing airworthiness standards,” said the conclusion of the report. “For over four years, FAA made limited progress in determining which certification path to use. One issue is that, over two decades ago, FAA defined an aircraft category called powered-lift that is applicable to some AAM aircraft. However, FAA never established corresponding airworthiness standards and operational regulations, leading to significant internal debates and a lack of consensus on how to proceed. This lack of consensus affected rulemaking efforts that hindered the Agency’s progress. Further, FAA changed its certification path, which caught industry by surprise. The Agency will likely continue to face challenges as it progresses through the certification process for AAM aircraft, including reviewing novel features and establishing new operational regulations. Finally, FAA has not sufficiently established policies and procedures for its Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation, or communicated about its role in AAM certification. Continued ineffective coordination and communication, as well as the lack of timely decision making and established policies, could further hinder progress.

FAA concurred with our four recommendations to enhance FAA’s regulatory efforts and communication regarding the AAM aircraft certification process. We consider all recommendations resolved but open pending completion of planned actions.”

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