The CAA welcomes the continued efforts by the aviation industry to deliver new and innovative products to the market. As part of its efforts to support the industry, the CAA is giving an indication of its policy approach regarding the operation of VTOL aircraft.
The CAA is using existing legislation for the regulation of VTOL operations to the greatest extent possible, as we appreciate that our collective understanding of the new technology will grow as designs mature and operations commence. This understanding will inform the CAA’s ongoing work of, where appropriate, amending existing legislation to better enable deployment of new aviation technologies such as VTOL operations.
In the meantime, the CAA has developed policy statements on flight operations using VTOL aircraft, the licensing of pilots of VTOL-capable aircraft and on the regulatory basis for continued airworthiness of VTOL aircraft, as in as interim guidance to allow stakeholders to proceed with planning operations in line with CAA’s thinking while the formal rulemaking process is taking place.
We invite comments from stakeholders on our approach, this can be done by answering our calls for feedback:
Formal rulemaking will involve industry input and formal consultation as per CAA procedures and best practice.
We have also defined our overall approach to type-certification of VTOL aircraft.
Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) work seeks to develop new, environmentally friendly aircraft designs to move people and goods. In many cases it involves electric powered vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. These technologies have the potential to benefit UK consumers and contribute to the UK’s Jet Zero objectives.
Introducing these new aircraft and operations involves significant work. Gaining regulatory approval for new aircraft with new powerplants and new styles of operation means regulations and approval mechanisms must adapt, and innovators are also learning how to integrate within the traditional national and international aviation frameworks.
As the UK aviation regulator, we are adapting to work in new ways to engage and regulate the AAM industry. This includes the need to access relevant expertise whilst improving our ability to stay abreast of this fast-moving industry. As with much innovation, the timescales industry sets are challenging, and it is important that we address all the challenges and activities as a whole and in a logical order to enable the safe introduction of Advanced Air Mobility as quickly as possible.
In response to these opportunities, together with the Department for Transport, we have launched an AAM Challenge with the aim of:
- Making sure the right public and consumer safety protections are in place
- Developing a clear understanding of what regulations, policies and other support is needed to enable initial commercial passenger carrying electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL) operations in 2026 and beyond and putting in place a strategy to make sure this happens as soon as possible
- Providing clarity to stakeholders on what is achievable by the proposed target date of 2026 and beyond from a regulatory perspective and giving stakeholders the confidence that we will deliver what we say
External Dependencies impacting the introduction of Advanced Air Mobility include:
- Progress by equipment manufacturers in resolving certification challenges, including demonstration of required safety criteria, and maintaining sufficient investment
- Industry, local and central government investment into infrastructure to support these new operations, including battery charging infrastructure
- Local authority engagement, acceptance and planning processes to deal with these new proposals
- Demand from consumers for these new operations and wider public acceptance. These will determine the growth / scaling of the industry
- Progress and alignment of international standards and certification approaches
- Factor in the impact of an expanding / developing sector on our ability to attract and retain relevant expertise to complete our work.
We believe there will be an incremental approach to the introduction of eVTOL aircraft. Matching demand from manufacturers means we will initially focus on operations by piloted aircraft using the current airspace infrastructure and mainly from current aerodromes.
This will enable the entire aviation system to gain experience of the new sector, resulting in a greater understanding of how eVTOL flying can be safely and successfully integrated. It will also inform and direct our concurrent work on integrating larger volumes of AAM flying in the future.
The technology is new and still developing so we are engaging with industry, government, academia, and other regulators to investigate the risks and possible mitigations that result.
We will use the existing UK rules and regulations where possible and we will work with other international regulators and states (and where applicable international standards development organisations), to develop new rules where necessary.
We will adopt what is appropriate for the UK but in doing so be fully aware that harmonisation enhances safety and increases efficiency for industry and regulators. In line with this approach, we are reviewing existing UK rules and conducting gap analyses to those of EASA, FAA, ICAO, and others.
In all our work we will keep an open mind, evolve and be willing to adapt.
We will seek to embed the highly successful safety management and just cultures of traditional commercial aviation into the new AAM sector.
We will fully consult on new rules and engage stakeholders as we develop our policies and be open and clear about our actions and plans.
We are working with colleagues across industry and government to deliver the regulatory frameworks and certification that will enable the next generation of aircraft to be developed and operated in UK airspace, while continuing to protect the public and other aviation users from harm. This update provides industry and other stakeholders with a snapshot of the CAA’s Future of Flight progress.
To develop appropriate policy, guidance and/or regulations so stakeholders are clear on UK requirements for eVTOL and similar operations workstreams will be:
- Initial airworthiness certification requirements for VTOL aircraft - we have published information on our certification plans
- Pilot and engineering training, competency, and licensing
- Ground infrastructure design and operational requirements for aerodromes and vertiports - we have published information for aerodromes and vertiports
- Safety and operational responsibilities and the requirements for obtaining and maintaining an Air Operators Certificate and operating licence
- Aviation security and cyber security
- Ongoing airworthiness and maintenance requirements for eVTOL aircraft
- Integration into current and future traffic management services in line with our Airspace Modernisation Strategy
- Consumer principles - we have published a guide to applying our consumer principles to AAM
We have published two documents related to the noise impact of eVTOL aircraft. The effects of eVTOL aircraft noise on humans and noise measurements from eVTOL aircraft: a review of available data.