Australian aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, is preparing the groundwork for an advanced air mobility (AAM) future, with delegates at this week’s AAM Summit in Melbourne praising the pragmatic approach of the regulator.
In July, CASA released a strategic regulatory roadmap intended to guide the regulator in the implementation of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) and AAM in the country over the next ten to 15 years. Delegates at the AAM Summit, organised by the Australian Association for Uncrewed Systems (AAUS), heard this week that CASA is now working on implementation plans for the first phase of the roadmap.
CASA expects rapid developments in the sector and is working to ensure it is ready, says Paul Hibberd, regulation implementation at CASA. “In CASA we are attacking AAM at a whole of agency level,” he says. The issues are often complex, but CASA is confident it can build a safe and resilient AAM sector, Hibberd adds.
CASA aims to continue to work closely with the AAM sector on its development, anticipating operations in Australia in the 2025/26 timeframe. A regulatory sandbox is in development which will allow CASA to test products and concepts to inform the development of regulations. Hibberd says the regulator is working towards a small-scale, piloted AAM operational demonstration in either a regional or urban environment in order to collect data to guide regulatory development.
CASA is also working closely with other Australian government agencies to support AAM, including air navigation services provider Airservices Australia, in addition to maintaining contact with international regulatory bodies in order to align regulations, including the US Federal Aviation Administration, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, New Zealand’s CAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency. “It’s important that we remain in touch with other agencies,” says Hibberd. “We are aiming for maximum harmonisation from the start,” he says, adding that Australia is more likely to attract AAM operations and investment if its regulations are globally harmonised.
CASA is already working with the US FAA, for example, on joint type and production certification for Swoop Aero’s Kite RPAS in a first for the Australian regulator. CASA is working with the FAA to validate FAA type certification of the vehicle and, once approved, the Australian regulator will issue a production certificate to allow the manufacture of the Kite in Melbourne. “It’s not AAM, but we expect there is much we can learn that will be useful for AAM,” says Hibberd.
CASA is in discussions with local Australian manufacturer AMSL Aero on certification of its Vertiia vehicle, with the eVTOL scheduled to launch its flight test programme later this year.
CASA has also established a dedicated vertiport team and expects to release shortly for discussion draft advisory design standards for vertiports – perhaps in a month, Hibberd reveals.
CASA’s approach has been welcomed by the AAM sector, with Rob Weaver, regulation and public policy global lead at Eve Air Mobility acknowledging it is “such a pragmatic approach from the regulator”, while Wisk’s Asia-Pacific regional director, Catherine MacGowan commends CASA for its forward-looking and collaborative approach. “We [Wisk] wouldn’t be here [in Australia] if it wasn’t for CASA,” says MacGowan.
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