FAA to Add Powered Lift to Air Carrier Aircraft Categories

The FAA signed a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) document on November 21st that adds a “powered lift” aircraft to the existing types of air carrier operations, a move that would set the stage for air carrier regulations that would apply specifically to eVTOL and aerial mobility aircraft in the future.

The 98 page document outlines the mechanics of the new categories integration into existing regulations, as well as proposes the addition of “powered lift” aircraft to 14 CFR 110.2 and extends rules applicable to air carriers in certain operations to aerial mobility operations.

Additionally, the NPRM states that powered lift operational experience will be required for air carriers intending to operate powered lift type aircraft in air carrier capacities, meaning that the initial pool of powered lift experience will reside largely with OEM’s. Existing Part 135 and 121 carriers do not yet operate eVTOL aircraft as they’ve not yet been certified, and will seek operating experience with these new aircraft types as soon as possible to meet the proposed requirements for issuance of operation certificates (Part 119). Importantly, the NPRM extends beyond just Part 121 and 135, but also to Parts 91, 125, and 136 to ensure coverage and effectivity of regulations to the foreseeable applications of eVTOL use cases beyond just point to point transportation.

Why it’s important

The FAA’s movement to propose a new category of aircraft type be included in existing air carrier documentation is an important step for the FAA as they lay the groundwork for an innovative and disruptive type of aircraft that will challenge the current short haul to last mile status quo. Further, the FAA’s NPRM is currently under review and comment submission, meaning that the FAA will likely receive input from OEM’s developing aerial mobility aircraft as well as potential future operators as well.

The NPRM document from the FAA is located here.

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