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European Commission adopts EU-wide ranging advanced air mobility regulations

The European Commission has adopted today a set of measures to address the unique safety challenges of new emerging air mobility concepts and services and ensure that their operations will be as safe as those in manned aviation.

According to a European Union Aviation Safety Agency press release:

“The package targets two emerging areas in aviation: manned aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing (often referred to as manned VTOL or piloted air taxis, which are small commercial aircrafts making short flights on demand), as well as higher-risk (so-called ‘specific category’) unmanned drone operations.

“The aim is to unify and streamline the regulatory landscape across Member States, improving oversight and operational safety standards.

“For instance, the measures will introduce new EU-wide airworthiness certification requirements and procedures for manned and unmanned VTOL, addressing both the physical integrity and the digital security risks that could impact their safe operation.

“They also include ‘air taxi’ pilot licence requirements, rules on integration into airspace (definition of flight paths, take-off and landing rules, and so forth), as well as specific rules enabling these aircraft to perform emergency medical services and rescue operations.

Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, said: “With this regulatory framework, the EU reaffirms its position as a global leader in aviation safety and innovation. This initiative promises to unlock the full potential of innovative air mobility, setting new standards for urban transportation in the 21st century and beyond.”

The package is a key action under the EU Drone Strategy 2.0, adopted in November 2022, aimed at fostering a smart and sustainable unmanned aircraft sector across Europe. It comes in addition to the ‘U-space Regulation‘ that became applicable in 2023. The implementation of the U-space regulation was discussed today at the event “U-space in Practice: From Lessons Learned to Future Challenges” organised by the Belgian Presidency of the Council.

The package is based on regulatory proposals from the EASA, published in Opinion No 03/2023 in August 2023. The legislation introduces a comprehensive set of requirements for piloted electric air taxis, spanning the domains of Air Operations (Air OPS), Flight Crew Licensing (FCL), Standardised European Rules of the Air (SERA) and Air Traffic Management (ATM). It also establishes criteria and processes for the certification and maintenance of drones.

The package is the last legislative element required for the launch of air taxi services, complementing other existing legislation. Air taxis will additionally require certification from EASA before such services can become operational in Europe.


(Image: Shutterstock)

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