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Japan’s SkyDrive targeting eVTOL type certification equivalent to U.S. and European standards

Japanese startup SkyDrive said it is aiming to get its two-seat SD-05 eVTOL aircraft certified under similar standards that U.S. and European aviation authorities are using to certify eVTOL aircraft.

SkyDrive piloted flight demo type certification
SkyDrive’s older SD-03 eVTOL prototype during its public flight demonstration in August 2020. SkyDrive Image

The company announced it has reached an agreement in March with the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) to base its type certification on the agency’s Airworthiness Inspection Manual (AIM) Part II (Revision 61), which covers fixed-wing aircraft that can carry up to 19 passengers and have a take-off weight of up to 8,600 kilograms (19,000 pounds).

The revision allows for flexibility in the shape of the airframe and aircraft system, and establishes standards for testing strength, structure, and performance to validate the safety of the aircraft and its components.

SkyDrive’s chief technology officer Nobuo Kishi previously told that once the company receives certification from Japanese authorities, SkyDrive is going after international regulators for approvals.

According to the company, the standards set out in AIM Part II are similar to the standards that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have adopted for eVTOL type certification.

This latest development in the company’s path to certification comes just five months after the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) accepted SkyDrive’s application for type certification in October.

“We are very pleased that we have moved a step closer to obtaining a type certificate,” Kish said in a press release. “From here, we will continue to deepen our partnership with JCAB and discuss plans toward obtaining a type certificate.”

SkyDrive’s next step is to agree on a certification test plan with Japanese authorities before manufacturing the prototype and beginning test flights. A company spokesperson told that it is expecting the first flight to take place in 2024, “but this is subject to change in the future process since this is a new type of aircraft.”

The eVTOL developer said it is aiming to receive approvals in 2025 and launch aerial ridesharing services at the World Expo in Osaka, Japan, that same year. After the Expo, the company said it is looking to increase the number of service locations in Japan first before exploring other markets.

“We are currently exploring a wide range of possibilities, including the United States, Southeast Asia, and India,” the spokesperson said.

SkyDrive refrained from disclosing the targeted specifications, renderings or supplier partnerships related to the SD-05 aircraft that it plans to certify.

The company claims it is the first Japanese eVTOL developer to conduct crewed test flight demonstrations using its piloted SD-03 eVTOL model. Its cargo drones are currently being used at worksites in Japan to carry up to 30 kg (66 lb) of payload.

This article has been updated with comments from SkyDrive.

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1 Comment

  1. That is a great looking aircraft! Congratulations.
    Looking forward to be able to fly it here in the USA.

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