Are Flying Taxis Becoming a Reality? EASA Release World’s First Rules for Operation of Air Taxis

A3 Vahana eVTOL Matti Blume, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published its first set of rules and regulations for the operation of air taxis in cities and urban areas throughout the continent.

These sets of regulations are one of the first comprehensive to be issued in the world. It looks like the European Union is leading in terms of the regulation of air taxi operations. 

The new 295-page-long regulatory framework will be open for public scrutiny, consultation and consolidation until the end of September of this year.

The long framework covers all aspects of the operations of air taxis. This includes technical and maintenance fields of the craft itself, licensing of crew and operators and the rules of air operations. 

Not completely new

The regulatory framework is not completely new. This is because the European Union is very much ahead of its international peers on the future of aviation and air transport, the new framework somewhat co-exists and complements the existing EU regulatory domains on Unmanned Aircraft Systems or UAS.

The management of unmanned or automated flying vehicles airspace is also known in the continent as U-space. This comes along with the certification of aircraft that are rated for Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL), as well as the continent’s regulations and guidance on the designs of ‘vertiports’.

Vertiports are ground infrastructure solely dedicated to UAS and VTOL machines. 

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky stated: “With this, EASA becomes the first aviation regulator worldwide to release a comprehensive regulatory framework for operations of VTOL-capable aircraft, which will offer air taxi and similar services.”

“The publication reinforces the leadership EASA is showing in this area of innovation. At the same time, we have done our best to address general societal concerns and the expectations of EU citizens with respect to safety, security, privacy, environment and noise.”

Great news for European manufacturers 

The publishing of the tedious framework is great news for manufacturers in Europe, and importantly a significant step in getting the VTOL aircraft ready for certification in the upcoming years.

The aircraft will finally be recognised by the European Commission, which is the stepping stone to enable new urban air mobility concepts throughout the continents. 

EASA’s latest framework will go hand-in-hand with the publications of the EU on mobility by air of people and goods (cargo). This is to ensure all stakeholders in the aviation industry are on the same page. 

Bottom line

The purpose of the framework for the newly introduced ecosystem or ‘universe’ for urban air mobility is to ensure all parties are safe during the operations of such vehicles.

This could be seen in the set of rules and regulations listed on the framework to ensure seamless integration of certification and licensing of such UAMS. 

With the framework moving on, the future of Air Taxis scattered across European towns and cities is becoming a reality, albeit slowly. 

The overall objective is to foster the development of a new ecosystem for urban air mobility (UAM) – to achieve the safe and secure integration of certified UAS and VTOL-capable aircraft operations in the EU, and to enable operators to safely operate VTOL-capable aircraft in the single European sky. 

In developing its proposals for new rules for the different types of aircraft designs and operations, EASA applies a step-by-step approach that is closely aligned with actual industry development.

As such, certain future developments (e.g. VTOL-capable aircraft without a human pilot on board) are not yet covered in this proposal. They will be addressed by EASA with separate proposals when needed and in line with technological progress.

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