Emma Kelly EVTOL
Australian regulator lays out AAM roadmap
July 5, 2022
  • Share
  • Australia’s aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), has released a roadmap that is set to form the regulatory foundation for the integration of advanced air mobility (AAM) and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) in the country’s airspace over the next 10 to 15 years. 

    Skyportz 

    CASA has released a roadmap that is set to form the regulatory foundation for the integration of AAM and RPAS in the Australian airspace. The roadmap will provide guidance for AAM companies like Skyportz, which is looking to establish a vertiport network in Australia. Skyportz Image 

    Publication of the roadmap comes as developments in the sector accelerate in the country, with Wisk Aero establishing a base in Australia to launch autonomous air taxi services in South East Queensland; local company Skyportz looking to establish a vertiport network; homegrown eVTOL designer and manufacturer AMSL Aero working toward certification of its Vertiia vehicle; and industry collaboration platform Greenbird leading efforts toward commercialization. 

    The roadmap is the result of a collaborative process with the nascent industry which started last year when CASA was tasked by the Australian Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC) to produce a safety regulatory roadmap to set policy direction for AAM and RPAS regulations. 

    An initial roadmap was developed by CASA and industry experts between July 2021 and January 2022, which was followed by public comment on the draft earlier this year and publication of the final roadmap this week. 

    According to CASA, the roadmap will be reviewed every 18 months in consultation with industry, with ongoing consultation planned for specific activities. CASA said it will also use coordinated approaches, such as regulatory sandboxes, to facilitate innovative thinking and regulatory arrangements, including testing products, services and concepts to inform development of RPAS and AAM regulations. 

    CASA said it was one of the first regulators to recognize the need for legislation surrounding RPAS operations and has been monitoring rapidly evolving AAM and RPAS developments. 

    “We are committed to advancing these pioneering technologies and see this roadmap as a priority as we frame the future of Australian aviation,” said Pip Spence, CEO and director of aviation safety at CASA. 

    The roadmap aims to “demystify regulations and ensure they are appropriate while promoting streamlined digital processes and stimulating innovation and research,” Spence said. 

    The roadmap covers operations, infrastructure and training in the immediate, medium and long term through to 2036 and is intended to support the industry as it undergoes what Spence described as a “technological renaissance.” 

    Roadmap activities 

    From 2022 to 2023, CASA aims to publish acceptable industry consensus standards for piloted AAM and review applicable maintenance policies for AAM, as well as review international frameworks, standards and methods for RPAS certification and maintenance policies. 

    In the area of airspace and traffic management, CASA aims to develop a method to manage Australian airspace that supports AAM and RPAS integration through the Australian future airspace framework. It will also research how existing separation standards may apply to AAM and RPAS, review existing flight rules and work with DITRDC and air navigation service provider Airservices Australia on a regulatory oversight framework for urban air mobility. 

    For operations, CASA will develop and publish guidance material for approval of research and development operations and identify regulatory changes required to support operations. Immediate term work also includes the development of guidance material, design requirements and regulations for vertiports and other infrastructure required for AAM operations. 

    In the near term, through to 2026, CASA is aiming to publish acceptable industry consensus standards for AAM; develop an implementation plan for airspace modernization that is flexible, scalable and supports all airspace users; begin initial implementation; consider new separation standards; consult with all airspace users on proposed rules; and develop airspace requirements for vertiport operations. 

    It will also develop guidance on the operational approval requirements for AAM operations; develop standards for international operations; review existing approval and oversight processes; implement a regulatory framework for AAM infrastructure; develop certification requirements for infrastructure; implement standard training and licensing requirements; and develop safety management system and human factor policies proportionate to risk and complexity. 

    Medium-term activities, through to 2031, will include ensuring certification standards for AAM are internationally harmonized; continue airspace modernization; develop new separation requirements to support and use improving technologies such as autonomy; develop an integrated ATM framework to support all airspace users; consider alternative methods of regulatory oversight; implement standard training and licensing requirements for personnel; and apply streamlined processes for the approval of SMS for operators. 

    From 2031 to 2036, CASA will publish acceptable industry consensus standards for highly automated AAM; develop and implement airspace structures to support all airspace users in a seamless airspace environment; develop standards and capabilities to support cooperative participation and levels of self-separation between all airspace users; mature regulations and approval processes for infrastructure; implement standard licensing and training requirements for AAM dispatchers; and promote activities to embed a positive safety culture.