Europe establishes world’s first design specifications for drone taxi vertiports
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has become the world’s first air transport safety regulator to offer technical design advice to city planners and eVTOL manufacturers looking to build high-performance vertiports. taxi drone across Europe.
In a document entitled “Prototype Engineering Design Specification for Vertiports“, EASA outlines in detail the physical characteristics of a vertiport, the required obstacle environment, visual aids, lights and markings, and alternative en route vertiport concepts for safe flight and landing. Particular attention was paid to congested urban environments in the document since many drone taxi vertiports will be built inside or near European cities.
A notable innovation in the EASA guidance is the concept of a funnel-shaped area above the vertiport, referred to as a “barrier-free volume”. The agency explains:
This concept is adapted to the operational capabilities of the new VTOL aircraft, which can perform landings and takeoffs with a large vertical segment. Depending on the urban environment and the performance of some VTOL-capable aircraft, omnidirectional trajectories to vertiports will also be possible. Such approaches can more easily account for environmental and noise restrictions and are more suited to an urban environment than conventional heliport operations, which are limited in the approaches that can be safely applied.
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EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky admits that Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is a brand new area of aviation which has provided the regulator with a unique opportunity to develop a set of infrastructure requirements from zero.
This is why EASA made sure to include experts from EU Member States, as well as the world’s leading vertiport companies and VTOL manufacturers, when drafting this guidance. Here is Ky:
With the world’s first guidance for safe vertiport operations, EASA’s ambition is to provide our stakeholders with the “gold standard” in safe vertiport design and operational frameworks. By harmonizing standards for the design and operation of vertiports, we will support European industry, which is already starting to embark on exciting projects in Europe and around the world to make new urban air mobility a reality.
The next step for EASA is a full-scale rulemaking task (RMT.230) during which the agency will detail all of the regulatory requirements to ensure the safety of vertiport taxi drone operations.
These will not only include detailed design specifications, but also requirements for authorities overseeing vertiport operations as well as organizational and operational requirements for vertiport operators.
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