FAA Add eVTOLs to Industrial Service Definitions

“This proposed rule would add powered-lift to these definitions to ensure the appropriate sets of rules apply to air carriers’ and certain commercial operators’ operations of aircraft that FAA regulations define as powered-lift. The FAA also proposes to update certain basic requirements that apply to air carrier oversight, such as the contents of operations specifications and the qualifications applicable to certain management personnel…. This proposed rule is an important step in the FAA’s integration of new entrant aircraft into the National Airspace System (NAS),” says the draft NPRM.

The change may make it easier for eVTOLs to get certification, and will help the FAA to establish the appropriate regulatory framework. “Application of the appropriate set of rules for powered-lift in a range of certificate holders’ operations would serve as both a risk mitigation measure and a framework for FAA oversight, as necessary to achieve the requisite level of safety,” says the draft NPRM .

As air mobility publication TransportUp points out, “Importantly, the NPRM extends beyond just Part 121 and 135, but also to Parts 91, 125, and 136 to ensure coverage and effectivity of regulations to the foreseeable applications of eVTOL use cases beyond just point to point transportation.”

From the proposed NPRM:

Operations with powered-lift could offer many benefits over traditional rotorcraft. For example, some powered-lift may be capable of transporting heavier loads at higher altitudes and faster cruise speeds than a rotorcraft, while maintaining vertical takeoff and landing capability. Such capability may increase efficiency in transporting crew and material to remote locations such as offshore oil rigs. Operators may also seek to use powered-lift for transporting passenger’s point-to-point; for example, such transportation could occur from a heliport and proceed at turboprop airspeeds and ranges. Other opportunities may also exist in concentrated urban environments, where short point-to-point distances coupled with vertical capability may allow for more efficient transportation of passengers or cargo than existing ground transportation methods.

Joby Aviation, a manufacturer of passenger eVTOLs, won Part 135 certification – relevant to on-demand or commuter operations – earlier this year. The company plans to use traditional aircraft to work out logistics, preparatory to launching a commercial eVTOL service in 2024.

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