Bruce Crumley DRONEDJ
Major regulators cooperating on AAM certification, integration rules 
August 5, 2022
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  • Aviation regulators from several leading nations have formed a group to harmonize their certification criteria and integration plans for advanced air mobility (AAM) vehicles and services like air taxis. 

    Initial members of the National Aviation Authorities (NAA) network include the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and fellow administrations from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. A main objective of participating regulators is to coordinate similar certification rules for AAM aircraft in order to facilitate and speed their authorization and use around the world.  

    Creation of the body in late July was the most dramatic step yet in efforts by certain regulators and AAM vehicle developers to harmonize certification criteria.  

    Companies like Joby have said they will pursue concurrent US and UK certification of their AAM air taxis, while Vertical Aerospace is taking a similar approach in the UK and European Union. Drone delivery specialist Swoop Aero is triangulating with regulators in the US and Australia on getting its remotely piloted aircraft certified in both countries. 

    Meanwhile, last March, the FAA and CAA said they’d work together on criteria harmonization. Shortly after, the CAA said it would be using standards adopted by the European Union Aviation Agency (EASA) regulator in certifying AAM craft. The EASA is not among founding NAA members, but could join its ranks as the network enlarges. 

    The shared desire among regulators to establish similar certification procedures and plans for integrating AAM planes into national airspaces was a main point of focus in comments Wednesday by Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen at the White House Summit on Advanced Air Mobility.  

    Nolan said a wide range of next generation AAM aircraft are speeding through development, with two manufacturers the US regulator is working with expected to obtain certification by 2024. 

    He said the diversity of vehicle design and operation – including piloted, remote controlled, and autonomous flight – use cases, and training, infrastructure, and air traffic details that still need to be worked out in the US alone are a main focus of FAA activity.  

    With that same, often overlapping effort also underway in other major economies, Nolan said, both regulators and developers of AAM craft had become active in trying to coordinate cross-border certification potentials. 

    “One example is a group called the National Aviation Authorities Network, which is a partnership involving the FAA, the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand,” Nolan said. “Through this group, we’re looking at how we might align our certification processes and standards for AAM aircraft. And we’re eager to work with other nations so we can exchange expertise and share progress with each other.” 

    Stephen Hillier, who chairs both the CAA and NAA, aired similar thoughts in welcoming the founding of the network of international regulators, and its focus on effective, speedy, and coordinated certification processes of AAM planes 

    “This is both an exciting and a challenging time for the global aviation sector, and regulators must move quickly to build greater resilience, keep pace with rapid innovation, and work together to reduce carbon emissions,” Hillier said. “The NAA network helps us strengthen collaborative approaches to common challenges and to share best practices and regulatory approaches. We’re already doing timely and important work together within the network and I very much look forward to continuing to work closely with my colleagues in Australia, Canada, the US and New Zealand to help advance global aviation.”