On The Radar
EASA Publishes First Guidance on Urban Air Mobility Vertiport Design
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency published the world’s first guidance for the design of vertiports needed for the safe operation of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) services such as air taxis in locations across Europe, including in urban areas. The Prototype Technical Design Specifications for Vertiports offers guidance to urban planners, local decision-makers, and industry stakeholders to aid in the design of facilities that will serve VTOL aircraft, including eVTOL vehicles.
“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,” said EASA executive director Patrick Ky. “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 harmonizing 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.”
EASA announced the guidance on March 24, saying it offers new and innovative solutions specifically for congested urban environments where many vertiports will exist.
The European aviation safety agency has designated one notable innovation—the concept of a funnel-shaped area above the vertiport— as “obstacle-free volume.” The concept applies directly to the operational capabilities of the new VTOL aircraft, which can perform landing and take-off with a significant vertical segment. Depending on the urban environment and on the performance of certain VTOL-capable aircraft, omnidirectional trajectories to vertiports will also be possible. Such approaches can more easily take account of environmental and noise restrictions and better suit an urban environment than conventional heliport operations, which suffer limitations in the approaches operators can safely apply.
EASA led the development of the guidance, working in cooperation with the world’s leading vertiport companies and VTOL manufacturers, and with the support of experts from European member states. The next step is a full-scale rulemaking task (RMT.230) 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.