In a sign that the oft-celebrated (and of late mourned) special relationship between the US and UK is alive still, a rapprochement between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on advanced air mobility (AAM) craft is stoking the ambitions of vehicle manufacturers like Joby already active in both nations.
In comments during the Global Urban Advanced Air Summit – and later echoed in tweets and press releases – the FAA and CAA said they’d begun discussions about working together in support of nearing AAM services. One objective in that, presumably, could involve harmonized or at very least compatible vehicle certification procedures.
Though no details about how far that cooperative effort seeks to go, the mere notion that regulators in two of the West’s most promising next-generation air markets may together find ways to facilitate entry of new craft and services was a source of glee for manufacturers who are preparing activity in both countries, like Joby Aviation.
“We welcome @FAANews and @UK_CAA announcing their joint approach to eVTOL regulation, paving the way for the validation of our type certificate in the UK once our aircraft is approved by the FAA,” Joby said in the first of four consecutive tweets stressing the company’s commitment to the UK as a promising AAM market, and a nurturing developmental environment. “We’re establishing a presence in the UK to support our work with these and other partners, and joining @ADSgroupUK, the premier industry group, to help support the successful launch of fast, clean, and convenient air taxi services across the UK.”
Joby won’t be the only AAM group taking heart at the FAA and CAA’s announcement. Virtually every manufacture of such craft in the UK and US will doubtless also be looking for ways to benefit from any joint measures that might create de facto fast-tracking of craft approval from one country to the other.
Neither regulator is promising anything like a unified set of criteria or procedures for AAM aircraft applicable to both nations. But in a joint statement on their discussions, the FAA and CAA made it evident they want to find enough common ground to speed and facilitate approval of vehicles intended for use in both countries.
“To support future eVTOL aircraft development and operation, the U.S. and UK civil aviation authorities are engaged in a range of bilateral and multilateral discussions focused on facilitating certification and validating new eVTOL aircraft, production, continued airworthiness, operations, and personnel licensing,” it read.
“As these aircraft enter into the aviation ecosystem, we must continue to maintain the high safety standards that the public expects. To streamline and expedite integration, this technology should use existing regulatory frameworks on which that strong safety record is founded,” it continued. “Both authorities have a strong history of collaborating in aircraft certification, airspace integration, operations, and infrastructure, which lead to a safer, more sustainable sector.”
Joby isn’t the only AAM company with activities in both nations to welcome the link-up between the FAA and CAA. Embraer affiliate Eve is also working in the two countries, as are Vertical Aerospace and Airbus’ next-generation aircraft unit. Those and others will be watching closely to see how far cooperation between the two regulators can go, and how much that can speed certification and operation their respective aircraft in both markets.