FAA Lays Out the Rules for Initial Electric Air Taxi Operations

United Airlines will operate the Archer eVTOL called Midnight 7 photos
Photo: Archer Aviation
Midnight eVTOLMidnight eVTOLJoby eVTOLJoby eVTOLMidnight eVTOLMidnight eVTOL
While electric air taxi manufacturers such as the Californian Archer and Joby are gearing up for the official launch of their products, official regulations are paving the way for future operations in the US.
It's been a long journey, but we are just a couple of years apart from the dawn of a new era of air mobility. Some saw eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing) as funny-looking contraptions for personal fun experiences in the sky. However, state-of-the-art technology turned AAM (Advanced Air Mobility) into a promising vision for the future. This vision could bring real benefits toward zero-emission air mobility. The FAA's (Federal Aviation Administration) new blueprint confirms the incredible potential of this new perspective on aerial transport.

The recently-released FAA document, titled Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Concept of Operations 2.0, was created in collaboration with NASA and didn't introduce groundbreaking regulations. The most important thing to note is the gradual approach to air taxi operations. In other words, we won't be seeing autonomous air taxis flying around any time soon. Also, we can't expect to see these new types of aircraft circulating both ways right from the start.

The new blueprint makes it clear that eVTOLs will operate under the guidelines of general aviation initially. This means that they'll use helipads and existing flight routes. They'll fly with pilots onboard, who will be responsible for communicating with the air traffic controllers when necessary and following all the rules.

In the future, things will slowly expand to include dedicated vertiports in terms of infrastructure and even dedicated corridors that would link multiple routes between different vertiports. In the beginning, eVTOLs will operate pretty much as conventional helicopters. Over time, they'll have access to different corridors between major airports and dedicated vertiports in urban areas.

Traffic-wise, electric air taxis will be allowed to operate on one-way paths. Sometime in the distant future, we might see eVTOLs operating in two directions and even flying without a pilot onboard. Regulations will also evolve in connection to new technology related to real-time data sharing and other mandatory features for safe and effective autonomous operations.

The first air taxis that could kick off operations within this new framework are the ones developed by Archer and Joby. Archer's Midnight is already gearing up to enter service as the air taxi of the largest airline in the world. Last year, United Airlines made a hefty deposit for no less than 100 units of this electric aircraft. United intends to have its first electric air taxis in the sky next year.

Joby has a similar deadline for its commercial debut. At the same, its air taxis will be the first of their kind to be officially stationed at an Air Force base (the Edwards Air Force Base) starting next year.

If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
About the author: Otilia Drăgan
Otilia Drăgan profile photo

Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories