June 8, 2023

The FAA has published a preview of the long-awaited Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), addressing operational and airman qualification requirements for powered-lift aircraft.

This rulemaking, which the agency called a key step toward safely enabling advanced air mobility, is crucial for the launch of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

In the proposed rule’s preamble, the FAA explains the rulemaking is necessary because existing regulations did not anticipate the diversity in design of the powered-lift aircraft that are beginning to work through the certification process. The existing aeronautical experience requirements for powered-lift aircraft contain roadblocks for training and certificating the initial cadre of powered-lift flight instructors and pilots, the agency said.

Read more about the proposal.

Further, the regulations for certain commercial operations in Part 135 do not contain specific regulations addressing qualifications for powered-lift pilots, which creates a safety gap when compared to the Part 135 requirements for pilots of airplanes and helicopters.

“NBAA appreciates the FAA’s efforts to release this NPRM expeditiously paving the way for the future of air mobility and we are grateful for the opportunity to answer the agency’s questions from the industry’s perspective,” said Brian Koester, CAM, director of regulatory affairs. “NBAA will work with members and stakeholder groups to thoroughly evaluate the proposal and suggest opportunities to improve safety and functionality where necessary.”

In addition to airman qualifications, the proposed rule addresses several operational rules, allowing for powered-lift operations in Parts 91, 135 and 136 Commercial Air Tours and National Parks Air Tour Management.

“This proposed rulemaking is an important milestone towards the safe implementation of eVTOL aircraft in the National Airspace System,” added Koester. “We applaud the FAA’s commitment to timely publication of this SFAR and look forward to providing additional industry insight in public comment.”

The rulemaking will be formally published on June 14, and comments are due by Aug. 12.