The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is the first aviation authority in the world to publish draft regulations regarding the use of drone taxis in urban environments. This records, among other things, the airworthiness of aircraft, the training, and examination of flight crews, and flight operations. Stakeholders have until September 30, 2022, to respond to the draft regulation.
Future for VTOLs and drone taxis
EASA envisions a future in which electrically powered vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL) will play a major role in logistics and mobility. However, new rules are needed to manage the use of cargo drones and drone taxis in the urban environment, as the current rules for manned aviation are inadequate for this new branch of sport.
This Legal gap is what the new regulatory package should address. The new regulations are in addition to the general European regulations for drones, the regulations for U-space, the method of certification of VTOL devices, and the recently presented design guidelines for vertiports.
“This will make EASA the first aviation regulator in the world to release a comprehensive regulatory framework for the operations of VTOL-compliant aircraft, which will provide Air Taxi and similar services,” said Patrick Ky, EASA Executive Director. “The publication reinforces EASA's leadership in this area of innovation. At the same time, we have done our best to address the general societal concerns and expectations of EU citizens regarding safety, security, privacy, environment and noise.”
Pilot on board
Several manufacturers have informed EASA that they will introduce drone taxis to the market in the coming years. With these new mobility concepts, these parties want to respond to the smart city strategy of the European Commission, in which sustainable and green mobility plays a major role. It is up to EASA to properly manage such initiatives in the field of Urban Air Mobility.
The draft regulations have not yet been set up for fully autonomous flying drone taxis. In the first instance, these will therefore have to be controlled by a pilot on board. Only at a later stage will EASA come up with regulations for fully autonomous flying drone taxis.
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