Regulatory Approval and Documentation
Having designed and built a new airframe, preferably backed up by calculations, wind tunnel tests, and simple experiments, the next stage in airframe development is a flight trials program. The aim of the trials is to establish that the whole aircraft system performs as expected and to establish limits on flying such as take-off performance, stall speed, and maximum maneuver loads. However, before any flying can take place, the trials team must ensure that they have appropriate regulatory approval for flights. Here we will describe a typical process based on our current experience. The process varies from one jurisdiction to another but all generally encompass the same main aspects. The end point of the process is a fully documented aircraft backed up by trials data and with appropriate approvals for operational flight. In general we do not seek full certification for our aircraft since this usually involves certification of the design, build, and operational organizations as well as the aircraft itself. Rather, we seek “exemptions” - that is to say, specific approvals from the regulatory authority that our flights can permitted by, or exempted from, the relevant air navigation laws in their jurisdiction.