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Asia-Pacific joint effort to outline air taxi and drone safety guidelines by 2025

SINGAPORE – The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and its regional counterparts have begun collaboration on a framework for safety rules and standards to regulate air taxi and drone operations.

They met for the first time on Thursday, and aim to develop a set of regulatory reference materials by 2025 that each country can adapt and adopt to govern the emerging air taxi and drone sectors.

The meeting, organised by CAAS, was attended by representatives from 17 Asia-Pacific civil aviation authorities, including those from China and Japan, 24 private sector institutes, and companies such as Skyports Infrastructure and Vertical Aerospace.

“Regulators need to keep pace with technology for us to be able to reap the full benefits of ensuring security, as well as public and aviation safety,” said CAAS director-general Han Kok Juan. “This is not something that any one regulator can do on his own.”

The civil aviation authorities agreed that the two priority areas for drones are technical guidance and personnel training.

For air taxis, they agreed on six priority areas, including certification, collaboration between a country’s national agencies, and public education to promote this new form of air transport.

Collaboration among the regulators will allow CAAS to understand how risks are mitigated for air taxi operations, and to apply this information to regulatory requirements for Singapore, noted Mr Han.

Air taxis are small aircraft that can take off and land vertically, transporting passengers across short distances within a country.

Various models have been certified or are in the process of being certified in different countries.

In October, start-up EHang’s fully autonomous passenger-carrying air taxis were approved for operations in China, while the European Union Aviation Safety Agency is currently working on the certification of the Volocopter flying taxis in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Volocopter, which in 2022 announced plans to launch commercial air taxi flights in the Marina Bay area by early- to mid-2024, said it will give updates on this by the end of November.

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