The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched a consultation on proposals for existing aerodromes that wish to accommodate VTOL aircraft

The authority anticipates that initial eVTOL flights will take place from existing infrastructure, so its latest consultation applies only to existing aerodromes rather than bespoke vertiports, it stressed.

These proposals apply to all land-based aerodromes that wish to incorporate an area or vertiport for commercial VTOL aircraft operations. The design proposal is for VTOL aircraft in day and night Visual Flight Rule (VFR) operations; it does not cater for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and operations under Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC).

The CAA is consulting on aerodrome design where vertiports or areas for VTOL aircraft operations differ from that of traditional aerodromes. Comments from this consultation will inform the authority’s final design proposals, which will in turn form the requirements to supplement UK Reg (EU) No 139/2014 for certified aerodromes; CAP 168: Licensing of Aerodromes for licensed aerodromes; and best practises for vertiport implementation at unlicensed aerodromes

As it has insufficient validated VTOL aircraft performance and design data, the CAA noted that the provisions in the new document are subject to change as that relevant information becomes available. Vertiport guidance is expected to evolve into a performance-based design standard, which may require increased or decreased dimensions to those in the document.

The design proposals set out in this consultation will also form the initial basis of bespoke vertiport design, the further detail of which will be established once the VTOL aircraft manufacturers and operators provide further data.

The factors on which the CAA is consulting will place additional requirements on existing aerodromes wanting establish VTOL aircraft operations. These include the physical characteristics of the operating environment, such as the design of operating areas, obstacle limitation surfaces and visual aids, as well as rescue and firefighting services. The licence holder will be required to establish and maintain an appropriate Safety Management System (SMS), as is the case with all licensed aerodromes.

The CAA is also considering the circumstances in which unlicensed aerodromes looking to establish commercial VTOL aircraft operations, or a vertiport, may be required to obtain a licence. It will continue to engage with stakeholders on its initial proposals and carry out a separate consultation process in due course.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) documentation does not currently support the novel inclusion of VTOL aircraft operations at an existing aerodrome. Where required, ICAO Annex 14 Vols I and II, as well as Document 9261: The Heliport Manual, have been consulted. The specifications provided for in this chapter are based on the principles of heliport and helicopter design, and on statistical analysis of the population of helicopters as described in Appendix A to Chapter 3 of the Heliport Manual. A review of the design specifications will be required for vertiport regulations once information from VTOL aircraft manufacturers has been made available, the CAA stressed.

The consultation is for airports aiming to incorporate vertiports 
The consultation is for airports aiming to incorporate vertiports  Arjan Billan/ Unsplash