AAM Leaders Say Certs on Track Despite FAA Reg Shift

 - September 26, 2022, 9:33 AM
Participants of an industry panel at the Honeywell Air Mobility Summit talked about a range of issues affecting their ability to make AAM a reality, including the ramifications of the FAA's change in certification approaches. (Photo: Kerry Lynch/AIN)

Developers of new eVTOLs said their plans to achieve type certification for aircraft remain on track in the wake of the FAA’s recent move to approve aircraft as a special class under FAR 21.17(b) instead of existing Part 23 rules. However, executives participating in a panel during Honeywell's Air Mobility Summit last week expressed concern that the U.S. agency still has to address associated operational and training aspects under a to-come special FAR.

The FAA began AAM certification projects under Part 23 rules, which generally apply to light aircraft, with the use of special conditions. In recent months, however, it informed type certification applicants of the decision to use 21.17(b), which has applied to very light aircraft such as sailplanes and more recently UAS.

Max Fenkell, policy and government affairs lead for Joby Aviation, told attendees at the Honeywell summit in Washington, D.C., that from a certification standpoint, “the technical [requirement] has not changed.”

However, the move created a need for an SFAR encompassing commercial operations and training requirements. “The reason for this is under 135 today you have to be an airplane or a rotorcraft, Fenkell said. The SFAR requires formal rulemaking, and industry is hoping a final SFAR would be implemented by year-end 2024 as the first AAM vehicles hit the market.

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