The FAA is reaching out to industry for a better understanding of the design requirements and specifications for Skyports to be used by Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft, This includes piloted, optionally piloted aircraft and unmanned aircraft. The FAA is looking for industry help to develop the minimum standards for the design and operation of UAM flight centers, known as Vertiports or Skyports. The requirements for electric UAM aircraft air taxi and air shuttle operations differ from traditional heliports in terms of power/ battery charging requirements, security, and passenger services.
The FAA originally issued in 1991, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) Office of Airport Safety and Standards issued Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5390-3 “Vertiport Design” to provide guidance to planners and communities interested in developing a civil vertiport or vertistop. Due to a variety of reasons, this AC was canceled on July 28, 2010. Now the FAA is responding to the growing industry discussions surrounding UAM operations and is developing new minimum standards for facilities for the operation of these aircraft. The number of eVTOL aircraft substantially changes “fueling” from jet fuel to battery charging stations for Skyports versus heliports. In addition, since these operations most likely will be under FAA Part 135 (UAM Insight 18 September 2019 UAM Flights Need to Comply with FAA Part 135 Operating Regs), the Skyports will need passenger services and to comply with TSA security regs.
eVTOL, VTOL and Skyport designers responding to this Request for Information (RFI) will further FAA’s progress in developing minimum standards. FAA specifically is asking for information from VTOL aircraft designers/manufactures related to their technical and design approaches and the vehicle’s landing and takeoff capabilities. Information regarding VTOL facilities that designers have developed is also requested. Importantly, the information will be used to help FAA with the development of minimum standards and guidance for the design and operation of VTOL facilities that support UAM aircraft in air taxi and air shuttle operations.
A technical review team comprised of FAA personnel and support contractors from General Dynamics Information Technology and Gemini Technologies will review the responses and use the information provided to create a design evaluation document.
FAA is specifically asking for information regarding:
- Vehicle size
- Landing area design and geometry needed for aircraft
- Approach/departure paths
- Expected aircraft loading on the landing area
- Aircraft parking requirements
- Power plant specifications
- Battery type, size and charging specifications if electric propulsion is used
- Expected noise production
Submissions should be sent via e-mail to the following point of contact: Karen.Mercer@faa.gov, (609) 485-6747 and are due October 31, 2019
Airinsight-UAM sees this RFI as a great next step forward for the FAA in addressing the UAM Skyport design issues.