By Corina Meindl

EASA paves the way towards safe, sustainable and secure VTOL air taxi operations

EASA's proposed rules for operating Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft (VTOL) is the first initiative of this kind worldwide, paving the way for the future of air mobility.

Published on


On this page EVTOL Safety

At the end of August, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published Opinion No 03/2023, which proposes rules for operating Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft (VTOL), including air taxis, in a safe manner. EASA is a pioneer in proposing such a piece of regulation, as it is the first initiative of this kind worldwide.

In order to address new operational and mobility concepts based on cutting-edge technologies, such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and aircraft with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability, and to foster and promote their acceptance and adoption by European citizens, a comprehensive regulatory framework is proposed in Opinion No 03/2023.

As a parallel to the US, the “Innovate28” plan, unveiled by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in July, outlining strategies to phase in air taxi and other next-generation aerial services through 2028, shares many similarities with the EASA strategy. However, EASA’s text represents the actual rules that air taxi and other sector operators would be operating under, save for any changes made by the EU Commission, which is in charge of approving the final version into law, whereas the FAA only provides a working blueprint to build from.

By sending this document to the European Commission, EASA reinforces their support towards these up-and-coming means of air transport, recognising the potential of VTOL-capable aircraft (VCA) to transform urban mobility in a sustainable manner.

The document outlines an extensive collection of requirements for piloted electric air taxis, covering:

  • Operations: defines where and how VCA can operate within Europe’s airspace
  • Flight crew licensing: lays down requirements for the necessary training and qualifications to safely operate VTOL air taxis,
  • Rules of the air: outlines the rights and responsibilities of VTOL operators and their interactions with other airspace users.
  • Air traffic management: addresses how air traffic will be managed, coordinated, and integrated to prevent collisions and ensure smooth operations in urban environments. as well as criteria and processes for the certification and maintenance of drones.

These proposed enhancements are the last piece required for establishing a harmonised regulatory framework, thus enabling the safe, sustainable, and secure start of VTOL and air taxi operations in European cities. The Opinion brings amendments to existing EU aviation regulations and proposes the establishment of two new regulations addressing:

  • the initial airworthiness of UAS subject to certification in accordance with Article 40 of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945;
  • the continuing airworthiness of UAS subject to certification and operated in the ‘specific’ category; and
  • the operational requirements applicable to manned VCA (MVCA).

The recommended modifications and amendments aim at establishing a common increased safety standard for both unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operated in the “Specific” category and for VCA and enabling their operators to safely operate in the Single European Sky (SES). Furthermore, the proposal lays down the requirements for safe operations in U-Space both for UAS and manned VCA.

In terms of effects on the regulatory framework, the proposed changes are operations-centric, targeting the harmonisation across the EU and placing the emphasis on proportionality with respect to levels of risk and performance. EASA states that they worked on removing any elements that could cause uncertainty, providing additional explanations and clarifications where needed, and considering other areas of concern beyond safety, such as privacy, security and data protection.

Lastly, the Opinion fosters the Innovative Air Mobility (IAM) “while establishing an efficient, proportionate, and well-designed regulatory framework, free of burdensome requirements that could hinder the development of the UAS market”(EASA)

With the regulatory framework already in place, the European Union Agency hopes that once the European Commission will pass the proposal into law, VTOL manufacturers and operators will have an easier path towards obtaining all required certifications from their respective competent authorities.

Need more information ?

Please contact Corina Meindl at