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29 February 2024

UAE Regulations Lab issues license for Electric Vertical takeoff and landing aircraft

Published
By WAM

The UAE Regulations Lab at the General Secretariat of the Cabinet has issued a licence for an electric cargo aircraft as part of its efforts to promote sustainable and eco-friendly transportation and enhance the sustainability of the air cargo industry in the UAE. The licence is aimed at reducing carbon emissions by encouraging the adoption of clean energy and leveraging technology and innovation to redefine the logistics sector's future and its impact on the environment and climate.

The issuance of the electric aircraft licence is in line with the RegLab's national mission to align regulation with innovation by developing the necessary laws and regulations that keep pace with the rapid developments and changes in various sectors such as mobility, health, 3D printing technologies, artificial intelligence, and more.

Since its inception in 2019, the RegLab has been collaborating with government entities and the private sector through an innovative operating model that includes experimentation, legislating, and integrating emerging technologies that shape the future.

In collaboration with the United Parcel Service (UPS), an American multinational shipping, receiving, and supply chain management company, the RegLab has issued a temporary licence to test electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in the UAE.

The new sustainable aircraft licence provides a robust legislative framework for operating a new generation of cargo aircraft that uses clean energy, supporting the UAE's efforts to launch proactive eco-friendly initiatives and programs aimed at bolstering the economic system's competitiveness.

Under the licence, UPS will be able to commence its cargo operations using a new sustainable aircraft that adheres to internationally adopted specifications and standards in the electric air cargo and transportation system.

Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, and Chairman of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), stressed the importance of the RegLab licence as it provides the legal provision on a temporary basis to advance the UAE’s journey towards net zero emissions by 2050.

“The UAE is keen to adopt international best practices and advanced technologies in the air cargo industry,” he added.

The Minister of Economy noted that the UAE seeks to increase investments in the eco-friendly air transport sector, and enhance its contribution to the country's GDP.

He added, “Our country has become one of the most developed countries in the efficiency of air cargo operations. The application of the electric air cargo system will impact this sector positively, in accordance with the best standards of sustainability.”

Maryam Al Hammadi, Minister of State, Secretary-General of the UAE Cabinet, said that the UAE has succeeded in achieving significant strides in the field of sustainability and combatting climate change. She affirmed that the country is spearheading global efforts to combat climate change and achieve sustainability, thus contributing to shaping a better future for humanity.

She noted, “The Regulations Lab works with a number of experts, legislators from the federal and local government entities, private sector and entrepreneurs. The Lab’s mission is to develop new legislations that contributes to designing and adopting a flexible legislative system that keeps pace with the requirements of sustainability, and aligns the speed of regulations with the speed of innovation.”

Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director-General of the General Civil Aviation Authority, said that GCAA possesses all the cadres and capabilities, in addition to the necessary legislation to provide a safe operating environment for this type of aircraft, through the issuance of several regulations concerned with licensing runways for electric aircraft, as well as regulations related to airworthiness and operation, as the authority is currently working on similar activities related to passenger transport.
He added, “We expect that the pace of work on the project will increase, especially after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced (approving models and designs of air taxi stations) during the World Summit of Governments this year.”

Al Suwaidi pointed out the advantages of this type of air transport within cities compared to helicopters, as it provides a kind of ease and flexibility for movement at an operational cost, lower noise, and a clean energy that is environmentally friendly. In conclusion, he stressed on the expected challenges such as, the congestion of airspace with the entry of this new segment or category, which the GCAA will deal with in the best way.

“These incredible aircraft serve as a foundation for future solutions to reduce emissions in our air and ground operations,” said Bala Subramanian, UPS Chief Digital and Technology Officer. “With the support from the UAE government, we’re excited to focus on innovations that meet the needs of our business, our customers and the environment.”

“Together with BETA Technologies, we’re accelerating our journey to decarbonize the future of flight and these aircraft will help us get there,” said Laura Lane, UPS EVP & Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer. "As a company, we’ve made a commitment to 100% carbon neutrality by 2050. And we’ve set clear goals to get there including by sourcing 30% of our aviation fuel from sustainable sources by 2035.”

“Both the UAE and UPS have established their global leadership through innovation, and we are gratified to be working with such forward-looking partners,” said Kyle Clark, BETA’s Founder and CEO. “At BETA, we share this mindset, and see immense value in the testing and operations we’ll be able to achieve together. This is an opportunity to advance the development and adoption of electric aviation through real-world operations in a global transportation hub with ambitious goals to address the climate crisis."

The UAE Regulations Lab, or RegLab, is dedicated to developing and testing solid legislation for emerging technologies. At the RegLab, experts and regulators collaborate to co-create legislation that keeps pace with the speed of innovation. RegLab's ultimate goal is to create an agile and supportive legislative environment that pioneers "regulatory innovation" by developing legislation around emerging technologies in line with the UAE's Centennial 2071 plan.