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New EASA plan for drones and VTOL operations

On December 19, 2022, EASA published a new document relating to its rulemaking plans for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL).  

EASA operational rules for UAS are separated into three categories based on factors including the level of risk posed by a proposed flight: low, medium, and high-risk.  Currently, EASA has regulations for low and medium-risk UAS operations (“open” and “specific” categories, respectively). The document published by EASA in December 2022 provides clarification relating to high-risk UAS operations (“certified” category) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM), among other activities. EASA regulations for these more advanced operations are ongoing, in line with the regulatory development in many other countries like the U.S.

The December 2022 document explains EASA’s plan to draft opinions that will propose amendments to existing regulations to allow for high-risk UAS and AAM operations. These opinions will be released sequentially and generally cover the following types of operations:

  • UAS operations for the carriage of cargo and takeoff/landing at aerodromes
  • Certain VTOL operations with a pilot on board, which may include the carriage of goods and passengers; urban UAS operations
  • Certain VTOL operations without a pilot on board; urban UAS operations

In its document, EASA notes the complexity of the regulatory architecture needed to permit high-risk UAS operations and UAM. EASA’s planned consultative process for the tasks above is iterative and may result in additional proposals to introduce or amend existing rules.

Authors: Julia Norsetter and Hui Ling Teo

New technologies and aircraft capabilities, e.g. vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), are not addressed by the current aviation regulations. A robust regulatory framework needs to be developed.

Tags

transportation, regulations, aviation

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