New Class of Airspace Users, Flying Cars, need to recognize that urgent promulgation of rules is not always the best

flying car certification
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Flying Car Certification

Forcing Certification Will Hurt This Business With Great Potential

For the past 5-10 years, the debate over UAS regulations focused on separating the drones from traditional aircraft. Various technologies are being developed to provide the necessary level of safety. The airspace dialogue is not just about keeping the innovative little drones from the larger aircraft, both GA and commercial; with the advent of flying cars, there is a new dimension to this issue. See the below diagram:

Flying Car Certification airspace

Airbus, its A3 enterprise and AUVSI are proposing an agenda. Recently, they posted the following points:

  • Certification: Autonomous passenger aircraft currently have no clear path to certification. Regulators and industry leaders must partner to develop certification pathways specific to these types of aircraft, including airworthiness standards for Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL), electric propulsion, fly-by-wire systems, software and sense-and-avoid systems.
  • Air Traffic Management: These vehicles will require safe, secure and scalable air traffic management solutions to enable point-to-point self-piloted operations. That system must operate to keep manned and unmanned aircraft safe and enable remote sensing applications. This would necessarily include rules that allow Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations and operations over people.

Surprisingly, the French aerospace manufacturer did not reference the likelihood that the new Part 23 can be the model for its Vahana VTOL certification process and standards. Equally unexpectedly, AUVSI’s declaration fails to mention the integration of its drone constituents’ need for airspace, more specifically the risk of the Vahana and similar aerial cars to AUVSI’s drones.

The tone of the A3 and AUVSI missive expresses urgency. There is no doubt that the FAA needs to move. The process of developing Part 107 was highly criticized by industry, even though the FAA’s rules were promulgated before EASA’s.

Patience is a virtue many desire and few possess. Entrepreneurs would be well served to understand the realities of a regulator. Innovation will be approved for market use, but it is the safety organization’s mission to assure that its operations are safe. To force certification before proof of airworthiness will actually hurt this nascent business with such great potential.

 


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