AOPA joined several aviation organizations to submit comments to a special federal aviation regulation (SFAR) that would facilitate the introduction of advanced air mobility aircraft (AAM) into the U.S. national airspace system (NAS).
Manufacturing projections in the eVTOL industry estimate that certification and commercial operations for AAM aircraft may arrive as early as 2025. In preparation for their arrival into the NAS, the FAA and industry groups are working together to develop rules and regulations. The FAA SFAR for Integration of Powered Lift: Pilot Certification and Operations comment period closed on August 14 with feedback from several aviation groups who currently operate within the NAS and will be impacted by these new arrivals.
The comments prepared by the groups about the SFAR address certification, training, and qualification requirements as well as requirements for operating powered-lift aircraft. Maintenance and alteration requirements are detailed and so are recommendations for flight simulation training devices and new training technologies.
To resolve some of their top concerns, the aviation groups encouraged the FAA to consider aligning the SFAR more directly with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and guidance so that the U.S. can remain at the forefront of the AAM industry.
“Manufacturers and operators in states that align closely with ICAO will have a less costly regulatory burden for airman certification while achieving the same safety goals and will better maximize the vertical capabilities and benefits of these aircraft,” one set of comments stated.
In addition to the current misalignment with ICAO certification standards and operational rules guidance, the industry’s primary concerns with the rulemaking focus on simulator approval qualification failures and incomplete cost data for a Regulatory Impact Analysis.
“AOPA will continue to engage in the entry of powered-lift aircraft into the NAS and, as the industry works diligently to promote their safe and equitable integration, we will remain focused on protecting the interests of general aviation and our freedom to fly,” said AOPA’s Director of Airspace, Air Traffic and Security Jim McClay.