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FAA, EASA Release New Certification Criteria for Air Taxis
日期:2024/6/17 访问:

By International Affairs Office | AOPA-China | 2024-06-14


Final revisions to certification criteria for Joby (pictured) and Archer eVTOLs have been captured in a new FAA advisory circular.

The FAA and European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on June 10 released updated certification requirements for electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) aircraft, narrowing regulatory differences.

The FAA published an advisory circular (AC) for type certification of powered-lift vehicles and a draft safety continuum outlining certification levels, similar to those for Part 23 fixed-wing and Part 27 light rotorcraft. EASA released an updated special condition for small-category VTOL-capable aircraft (SC-VTOL), reflecting harmonization efforts with the FAA.

“We’re not yet fully harmonized, but we’ve moved a big step closer with these three announcements today,” says Kyle Martin, vice president, European affairs for the U.S.-based General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

The FAA’s AC 21.17-4 includes changes for Joby Aviation S4 and Archer Aviation Midnight eVTOL aircraft, establishing “essential” and “increased” performance approvals, with passenger-carrying eVTOLs expected to meet the higher standards. This aligns with EASA’s “basic” and “enhanced” categories from 2019, with commercial passenger eVTOLs required to meet the enhanced category’s stringent safety level.

The FAA’s draft safety continuum sets four certification levels for powered-lift aircraft up to 12,500 lb., ranging from Level 1 (zero-one passengers) to Level 4 (10-19 passengers), each with associated functional design assurance levels (FDAL) for catastrophic failures. Joby and Archer’s eVTOLs fall under Level 2A for commercial operations, aligning with Part 23 fixed-wing aircraft, compared to EASA’s stricter 10-9 safety requirement for all commercial eVTOL operations.

EASA’s updates include increasing maximum takeoff weight to 5,700 kg (12,500 lb.) and harmonizing design and construction regulations with the FAA, ensuring prevention of single failures causing catastrophic effects. SC-VTOL Issue 2 also requires flotation devices, watertight compartments, and integrated buoyancy for ditching, with enhanced-category eVTOLs needing post-capsize survivability features.

Additionally, certification requirements for electrical wiring interconnect systems have been included, and expanded flight recorder requirements mandate at least 5 hr of operation.