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“Unclear EU definitions of vertiports could effect UAM passenger rights and security arrangements”

Unclear definitions around the legal status of vertiports in the European Union could impact urban air mobility passenger rights and security arrangement, according to a new paper Vertiports: Ready for Take-off … And Landing from Benjamyn Scott of Leiden University, published in the latest edition of the “Journal of Air Law and Commerce”, and highlighted in a social media post by the Flying Forward 2020 consortium (https://www.linkedin.com/company/flying-forward-2020/).

“The EU has introduced the term “vertiport” into the language of UAM. While the term has not yet been defined in law, EASA has given it a technical definition. There are composite components of this definition that, when separated and explored, show there are key overlaps with existing terms to define aviation ground infrastructure, aerodromes, airports, and heliports,” said the conclusion of the paper.

“While EASA has tried to use the term “vertiport” to separate UAM ground infrastructure from traditional manned aviation ground infrastructure, the separation is not as clear and absolute as may have been anticipated. Consequently, a vertiport may be deemed an aerodrome, airport, heliport, or some combination of all those components depending on the specific situation.

“A consequence of this is that the rules that were drafted without consideration for UAM, such as the aviation rules on aerodrome safety, security, passenger protection, and air services, may be applicable to VTOL activities using vertiports. This may be a desirable but unintended consequence that ensures UAM activities are regulated. However, it may also be the case that these rules do not appropriately cover the specifics of UAM activities or that they are incompatible.

“For example, applying EU rules on delay for short distance, high frequency flying taxi services may be too onerous on this emerging market. As a result, the regulators will have to reevaluate the definition of “vertiport” before it enters into law, and assess the wider regulatory impact to ensure UAM activities are correctly regulated within the EU and Single European Sky.”

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