As countless companies race toward urban air mobility (UAM), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has taken a major step toward enabling this future. On June 7, the FAA proposed a comprehensive rule for training and certifying pilots. While much of the development in the world of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft has been focused on autonomous flight, there has been no effort by lawmakers in the United States to enable unmanned flights. As such, a means by which pilots are trained and certified is crucial to the future of the industry.
“These proposed rules of the sky will safely usher in this new era of aviation and provide the certainty the industry needs to develop,” said Acting Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety David Boulter.
New standards are needed, as many proposed eVTOL aircraft take off and land like a helicopter but fly like an airplane. The proposed rule for powered-lift aircraft is being designed to provide certainty to pilots and the industry on the requirements for operating these aircraft, and on expectations going forward. Under the proposed rule:
1) A clear pathway is proposed for pilots to earn powered-lift ratings specific to each type of aircraft they fly.
2) Pilots who work for powered-lift aircraft manufacturers could serve as the initial cadre of flight instructors, who could then train instructors at flight schools, training centers, and air carriers.
3) To safely accelerate pilot certification, alternate eligibility criteria would enable certain pilots to meet flight-time experience requirements faster. This would apply to pilots who already hold a commercial pilot certificate and are instrument rated.
4) Powered-lift aircraft would follow the same set of operating rules as traditional aircraft that are used in private and commercial flights and air tours.