EASA’s proposed air taxi certification rules suffer from silo approach to safety

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published its proposed methods on how to certify hybrid or electric air taxis. David Gleave, safety editor with Unmanned Publications, assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed regulations.

Many in the safety community were hopeful that the introduction of standards for vertical take off (VTOL) air taxis would be the opportunity for overhauling the disjointed regulatory system currently endured by the fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft world. Each hazard would be addressed through an integrated set of requirements so that each organization knew the role that it had to play. Unfortunately, the vehicle design standards do not appear to have grasped that long-awaited opportunity by cross-referencing the other design and operational standards, such as vertiport design and UTM service provision, to give a complete understanding of how each hazard will be managed in the future – though this may be part of a future integrated safety regulatory regime which has yet to be fully explained.

Will the future VTOL air taxi operations suffer from omission of regulations between the silos and poor verification of some of the published requirements?

Bird strikes are mentioned in the standards but not the mass of bird to be considered only a likely bird impact. If a 0.5 kg bird is considered as the design basis then will this mean that many cities with much heavier raptors will be out of bounds for operations? By not cross-referencing the responsibilities expected of each organization, will the flight operator assume that the vertiport operator has kept the birds away but the vertiport operator assumes that bird strikes can be managed without affecting the safety of the flight? While the airport operator has to ensure that the fencing and other control measures are adequate to prevent such an encounter, will this be included in the vertiport standards?

The bird strike requirements for aircraft cover the critical areas of windshields and propulsion units as well as the leading edge