Aviation is at the start of one of the biggest changes to the way people fly and goods are transported that we have seen for many decades. Hydrogen and electric powered aircraft, including those with vertical take-off and landing capability (VTOL), are set to transform our skies.
This combination of new technologies, alongside the imperative to decarbonise aviation, is driving this change that comes under the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) umbrella.
Recent years have seen significant numbers of proposals for new types of aircraft. The UK has been playing a leading role in the sector, with making the UK an attractive proposition for aviation innovation a government priority.
Putting regulations and infrastructure in place
Much of this development is happening at a fast pace and is using brand-new technology. As a result, we do not have the decades of data and experience that we do from traditional commercial aircraft. Industry is looking for support and facilitation for their infrastructure requirements from a multitude of sectors, many of whom may also be new to aviation. And the regulation surrounding all operational area needs to be adapted or developed to safely facilitate its success.
To do this we have to work collaboratively, so that regulations and guidance are available to support innovations, instead of holding them back. As part of that work, we regularly publish guidance and information to both help the industry prepare for regulatory approval and deal with developing issues.
Our latest work includes guidance for airports and vertiports on accommodating eVTOL aircraft in advance of the publication of technical and operational standards, how our consumer principles will apply to AAM and information about the certification of eVTOL aircraft. These are available on our AAM challenges workstream section of our website This is building on our announcement that we will be using the European Aviation Safety Agency’s SC-VTOL certification principles in the UK. This will also facilitate international harmonisation.
SC_VTOL and its Means of Compliance is the certification standard we will be using to judge whether eVTOL aircraft meet UK safety standards. UK manufacturer Vertical Aerospace will be using this for its VX4 eVTOL. We granted the organisation its Design Organisation Approval in March 2023 which was a major milestone in the UK eVTOL journey.
None of this fast-paced change means we take our focus off safety. Over many decades of aviation, we have learned together and developed technology and systems to ensure safe air travel in the UK. It is our mission to keep it that way. So, although we absolutely want to help innovation, our first priority will always be making sure air travel is safe.
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