Civil Helicopters News

Leonardo AW609 Possible First Entrant into Service Under New FAA Rules

Leonardo AW609 Possible First Entrant into Service Under New FAA Rules

The Leonardo AW609 may be the first aircraft to enter service under the Federal Aviation Administration’s regulatory framework that governs powered-lift aircraft.

The FAA’s rules, which are still currently in development, may see the civil tiltrotor, which has been flying in prototype form for nearly two decades, enter into service in 2024.

On November 22, the FAA issued a proposal to update its definition of air carriers to add powered-lift operations to regulations covering commercial operations such as airlines, charters and air tours. The new rules will face a period of public comment before they can go into effect.

The FAA decided to certify winged eVTOLs as powered-lift aircraft earlier this year, which led to the development of a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) to create operating rules for eVTOLs.

Walter Desrosier, Vice President of Engineering and Maintenance for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, says the industry expects the FAA to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which refers to an official document that announces and explains an agency’s plan to address a problem or accomplish a goal, for the SFAR in the first half of 2023, and a final rule in the second half of 2024.

That schedule is crucial in meeting the ambitious timelines of eVTOL companies that aim to launch commercial service in 2025, reports Vertical.

“When the FAA issues the NPRM, basically the FAA will be issuing its proposed standards for operations, for licensing,” said Desrosier, adding that the guidance could potentially form the basis for operations specifications that would facilitate deployment of the AW609 even if there are delays in the rulemaking process.