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EASA proposes Environmental Protection Technical Specifications for tilt-rotor VTOLs

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has received applications for the certification of aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capability (VTOL) for which no suitable environmental protection standards (i.e. noise, engine emissions, CO2 emissions) are presently available in Annex 16 to the Chicago Convention. The Agency says that it needs therefore to develop a new regulatory framework in line with the provisions of the essential requirements for environmental compatibility contained in Annex III of the Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 (BR) and related to the certification of the product design.

“The BR allows the Commission to develop further detailed environmental protection requirements under the delegated powers of Article 19(1)(a), for manned aircraft, and under Article 58(1)(a) for unmanned aircraft” according to the consultation paper’s introductory note.

“Article 76(3) of the BR mandates the Agency to issue certification specifications and other detailed specifications, acceptable means of compliance and guidance material for the application of the Basic Regulation and of the delegated and implementing acts adopted on the basis thereof.

“As an interim measure before such requirements are adopted, EASA is issuing Environmental Protection Technical Specifications (EPTS) to ensure that environmental protection is taken into consideration in the design of these new aircraft.

“Once sufficient knowledge and experience has been acquired, the necessary regulatory changes will be initiated through an Opinion of the Agency containing proposals for a delegated act to be adopted by the Commission as stipulated in the BR.

“The following EPTS are proposed for aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capability (VTOL) powered by tilting rotors. They contain the noise technical specifications and procedures that the applicants can use to demonstrate compliance with the essential environmental protection requirements in the Basic Regulation when applying for a type certificate.

“The present noise technical specifications are based on the content of Chapter 13 of ICAO Annex 16 Volume I and associated Evaluation Method of Appendix 2 and Guidance Material from ICAO ETM, which applies to tilt-rotors, to facilitate the comparison of technologies. The procedures are adapted to the characteristics of VCA with tilting rotors where necessary, for instance, by extending the lower test height limit to anticipate the lower noise signature of VCA, or by allowing a more refined source noise correction than for conventional tilt-rotors. The maximum allowable noise levels are kept identical to those of the EPTS for VCA designs involving non-tilting rotors while EASA collects more noise data from such designs through certification projects. In addition, in order to aid the noise assessment of operations in the vicinity of vertiports, a hover noise assessment has been developed.

“While the current EPTS apply to VCA with tilting rotors, EASA has already developed and publicly consulted separate EPTS for VCA designs involving non-tilting rotors. It should also be noted that, while the weight applicability of the current EPTS overlaps with that of the “Guidelines on Noise Measurement of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Lighter than 600 kg Operating in the Specific Category (Low and Medium Risk)”, the latter cover drones within the ‘Specific’ category of operations whereas the former covers certain air taxi designs (both manned or unmanned) within the ‘Certified’ category of operations. Consequently, the current EPTS and the UAS guidelines have distinct applicability scopes.”

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(Image: EASA)

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