Europe and Brazil to cooperate on eVTOL certification
The Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (ANAC), the national aviation regulator of Brazil, has signed letters of intent with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to strengthen cooperation as regards the development of certification standards for eVTOLs.
The letter between ANAC and EASA was signed at the EASA-FAA International Safety Conference in Cologne, Germany, by Luc Tytgat, Strategy and Safety Management Director of EASA, and Tiago Sousa Pereira, President-Director of ANAC. The agreement indicates that the two parties recognize that there is a rise in “new technologies” relating to the civil aviation system, naming eVTOLs specifically, and that aviation regulators worldwide have a responsibility to coordinate the harmonious introduction of these new aircraft into the airspace. Furthermore, it says that the two parties have a common interest in aviation safety and environmental sustainability.
In terms of action items, the document lists joint activities that will accelerate the creation of technical standards for these vehicles. These include the establishment of strong communication links to share pertinent technical information and experiences relating to eVTOL certification, presenting a common front at industry associations, and more generally cooperating on the “harmonization of policies, procedures and practices”. While the agreement doesn't enforce any legal or financial obligations upon the two parties, it is an exciting development because it demonstrates international recognition of a new era of aviation. What is even more promising is that it is the latest of a series of similar agreements. To wit: at the same conference, ANAC signed a similar document with the CAA of the UK. Sophie O’Sullivan, CAA Head of Future Safety and Innovation, commented on the agreement: “eVTOL is a vital frontier in the future of aviation, and we look forward to sharing regulatory approaches with our peers at ANAC in order to ensure we can stay at the forefront of this important sector.” The CAA announced last year that it will match its eVTOL standards to those of EASA. And in March of this year, the regulator published a joint statement with the US’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), stating that the “…US and UK civil aviation authorities are engaged in a range of bilateral and multilateral discussions focused on facilitating certification and validating new eVTOL aircraft, production, continued airworthiness, operations, and personnel licensing.” EASA has also confirmed that it will align with the FAA in its approach, and in February, began working with Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to certify a specific eVTOL before Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau. In short, we are seeing the beginnings of a united international consensus on standards for these vehicles, involving the Brazil, the UK, the EU, the US and Japan. It’s worth noting that current aviation standards and regulations began as informal agreements between countries in the early twentieth century - as such, it seems that we are currently seeing the birth of a new era in aviation history. Aviation technology has improved our lives by making the world a smaller place, but that would never have been possible without international safety standards. Today, eVTOLs stand to expand on these benefits by making flight even more accessible, relieving traffic congestion and lowering carbon footprints, but they must be held to the same standards. This doesn't only mean the machines themselves - as eVTOL use rises, our air traffic control systems will have to adapt too. It will mean adopting automation technology and agnostic monitoring systems that provide full airspace coverage. In other words - we need a universal UTM.