FAA and EASA issue broader guidance for eVTOL certification


Today the FAA has published an Advisory Circular (AC) whilst EASA has updated its special condition for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft to give more guidance on certifying advanced air mobility aircraft. 

The FAA has already published certification basis’ for Joby and Archer, the newly published AC contains “broad guidance” that will form the foundation for establishing certification criteria for eVTOL vehicles, said the agency. The AC is open for public comment from today for 60 days.

The airworthiness criteria in the AC apply to powered-lift aircraft with a maximum gross weight of 12,500lbs or less, a passenger seating configuration of six or less with battery-powered electric engines for propulsion.

The airworthiness standards for the aircraft are an amalgamation of sections of the requirements in FAA parts 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, and 35 of 14 CFR found to be applicable to the specific type design.

On the subject noise, the FAA will examine each powered-lift application on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the existing part 36 requirements are appropriate as a noise certification basis. It does this for all noise certification applicants — including tilt rotors, which are part of powered-lift category. If part 36 is not sufficient, the agency will publish specific noise requirements in the Federal Register. 

EASA has also released an updated version of SC-VTOL known as the “Second Issue of the Special Condition for VTOL-capable aircraft” . The updates reflect agreements made with the FAA across areas of performance requirements, including safe flight and landing, handling qualities and single point failures. Unlike the FAA’s AC, the second issue of SC-VTOL is not open for public consultation.

A further revision of the Special Condition is also planned in the short-term to implement “further alignments” between EASA and the FAA.

Additionally, the FAA and EASA have revised Safety Emphasis Items (SEI) lists for parts 23, 27, and 29, which determine the authority’s level of involvement on validation projects. The result is a reduction in SEIs and increased delegation to the certifying authority.