EUROPE. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published the world’s first guidance for the design of vertiports, the ground infrastructure needed for the safe operation of urban air mobility (UAM) services such as air taxis in locations across Europe.
The Prototype Technical Design Specifications for Vertiports offers guidance to urban planners and local decision-makers as well as industry to enable the safe design of vertiports. They will serve various new types of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, which are already at an advanced stage of development.
Many vertiports will be built within or close to cities and EASA said its guidance offers new and innovative solutions specifically for these congested urban environments.
One notable innovation is the concept of a funnel-shaped area above the vertiport, designated as an ‘obstacle free volume’. This concept from EASA is tailored to the operational capabilities of the new VTOL aircraft, which can perform landing and take-off within a “significant vertical segment”.
Depending on the urban environment and on the performance of certain VTOL-capable aircraft, omnidirectional trajectories to vertiports will be also possible.
Such approaches, EASA said, can more easily take account of environmental and noise restrictions and are more suitable for an urban environment than conventional heliport operations, which are constrained in the approaches that can be safely applied.
EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said: “Urban air mobility is a completely new field of aviation and we therefore have a unique opportunity to develop a set of infrastructure requirements from scratch. With the world’s first guidance for safe vertiport operations, EASA’s ambition is to provide our stakeholders with the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to safe vertiport design and operational frameworks.
“By harmonising design and operational standards for vertiports we will support European industry, who are already starting to embark on exciting projects in Europe and around the world to make new urban air mobility a reality.”
The guidance was developed with EASA working in cooperation with the world’s leading vertiport companies and VTOL manufacturers, and with the support of experts from European Member States.
The organization noted that the next step is a full-scale rulemaking task during which EASA will develop the full spectrum of regulatory requirements to ensure safe vertiport operations. These will include not only detailed design specifications, but also requirements for authorities to oversee vertiport operations as well as organizational and operational requirements for vertiport operators.
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