Lirio Liu, the FAA’s new executive director of aircraft certification, tried to soothe concerns of the burgeoning urban mobility industry with a pledge for flexibility in certifying the new aircraft. Liu told the Revolution Aero conference in San Francisco on Monday that there is room in the current regs to accommodate new technologies and the agency will do its best to use that flexibility to keep the industry moving forward. “Despite regulatory gaps…our ongoing certification work is possible because we can leverage our current regulatory framework,” Liu said. “We have flexibilities in that framework. We don’t always use them, but we’re getting better and better at doing that.”

The remarks came four months after the agency announced it was changing direction in certification of new eVTOLs and other urban mobility designs. Instead of certifying them under the Part 23 rules used for most small airplanes, the agency announced it would instead consider them under its 21.17(b) “special class” provisions. “Those frameworks will allow us to have technical policy specialists to develop project-specific regulatory requirements tailored to the unique aspects and the new designs we’re seeing,” she said. “These flexibilities can come in the form of special conditions or unique airworthiness criteria which we call a special class.”

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