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Washington Report, Jan-Feb 2023
  • 17 Dec 2022 01:28 AM
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Washington Report, Jan-Feb 2023

FAA Plans for Powered-Lift eVTOL Operations

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is aiming to release a plan for regulating eVTOL aircraft operations in May. In a Nov. 17 speech at the Aero Club of Washington, Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said that the agency will release an “implementation plan” that will enable the FAA to match the level of activity occurring in industry. “We know that when the Los Angeles Olympics get underway in 2028, air taxis will be in high demand,” said Nolen. “All of these Advanced Air Mobility companies will expect to be there. Our job at the FAA is to make that possible.”

Separately, on Nov. 21, the FAA released a 98-page notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) “to amend the regulatory definitions of certain air carrier and commercial operations.”

The proposal is to facilitate the integration of commercial electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft operations in the national airspace. The rule will add the words “powered-lift” to the definitions in 14 CFR Parts 91, 110, 119, 121, 125 and 136 “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 existing rules, which only apply to airplanes and rotorcraft, exclude many of the eVTOL aircraft currently under development. According to the FAA, the change would “extend the applicability of certain operating rules to powered-lift,” as well as add requirements for personnel and oversight. The agency allows 60 days for public comment after it published the proposal in the Federal Register.

This important necessity is due to the FAA’s decision to use Part 21.17(b) for eVTOL airworthiness certification (see “Commentary: FAA Changes Course on eVTOL Certification,” Vertiflite, July/Aug 2022) rather than Part 23 for eVTOL aircraft with wings.

Photo courtesy of NBAA.

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