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UK Civil Aviation Authority establishes eVTOL safety group

The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has established an international consortium to consider safety issues related to the deployment of eVTOL aircraft. 

Virgin Atlantic VA-X4 eVTOL
Virgin Atlantic has an option to purchase between 50 and 150 eVTOL aircraft from Vertical Aerospace. Both companies are members of the CAA’s new eVTOL Safety Leadership Group. Vertical Aerospace Image

Called the eVTOL Safety Leadership Group (eVSLG), the consortium was announced at the Helitech Expo in London on Oct. 5. As an “open space for industry,” the group will exist outside of the usual CAA governance processes, with the goal of empowering the eVTOL market “to successfully take off and retain the U.K.’s highest levels of aviation safety,” according to a press release. 

In addition to the CAA, founding members include eVTOL developers Joby Aviation and Vertical Aerospace, the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch and air navigation service provider NATS, and aircraft operators Bristow Helicopters, Flexjet, and Virgin Atlantic. The British Helicopter Association and General Aviation Safety Council are also represented in the group. 

The eVSLG will be co-chaired by the head of the CAA’s Rapid Capabilities Office, Rick Newson, and Matt Rhodes of Bristow, who is also co-chair of the Offshore Helicopter Safety Leadership Group. 

“The formation of the eVSLG consortium is a significant milestone toward a future of eVTOL aircraft and drone taxis becoming a reality in U.K. airspace,” stated Newson. “With commercial operations potentially starting in the next five years, it is vital that a strong safety culture is built into the heart of eVTOL operations.” 

According to Rhodes, “eVTOL aircraft represent a significant and revolutionary step change in this industry necessitating that safety processes continue to evolve in line with this fast moving and dynamic technology. We are committed to a collaborative approach to the sharing of safety critical data and best practices to assure our success.”  

U.K.-based Vertical Aerospace is working directly with the CAA on initial certification of its five-seat, fully electric air taxi, the VA-X4. Joby, which is headquartered in California, has not publicly discussed its plans for the U.K. market, but a spokesperson told “Joby is looking forward to working with the U.K. CAA on this critical topic and is committed to working with key stakeholders around the world on ensuring the safety of eVTOL operations.” 

The CAA said it expects membership for the group to continue to grow over coming weeks. 

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  1. As a long time component supplier for conventional fixed wing aircraft, we are keenly interested in making sure our continued product support complies to current and yet to be determined eVTOL/UAM aircraft safety and operational standards. An exciting time for all aerospace and transportation participants.

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