UAE issues licence for first electric cargo aircraft of its kind in the region
The UAE Regulations Lab at the General Secretariat of the Cabinet, issued a license for the electric cargo aircraft, with an aim to accelerate the shift towards sustainable and eco-friendly transportation modes and enhance the sustainability of the air cargo industry in the UAE.
The newly issued license will contribute to reducing the carbon footprint by encouraging the adoption of clean energy and harnessing the potential of technology and innovation in redefining the future of the logistics sector and its impact on the environment and climate.
The issuance of the electric aircraft license comes under the RegLab’s national mission to align regulation speed with innovation speed, by facilitating the development of 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 launch in 2019, the RegLab has been working with government entities and the private sector through a comprehensive and innovative operating model, based on experimentation, legislating and the integration of emerging technologies that shape the future.
The temporary license comes in collaboration with the United Parcel Service (UPS) -an American multinational shipping & receiving and supply chain management company, to test electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in the UAE.
The new sustainable aircraft license provides a strong legislative structure to operate a new generation of cargo aircrafts that use clean energy, which supports the UAE’s efforts to launch proactive eco-friendly initiatives and programs aimed at supporting the economic system and raising its competitiveness.
As per the license, UPS will be able to start its cargo operations through a new sustainable aircraft that conforms to the specifications and standards adopted internationally in the electric air cargo and transportation system.
His Excellency Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, and Chairman of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), stressed the importance of the RegLab license 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.
His Excellency 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.
Maryam Al Hammadi 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. 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 RegLab seeks to develop and test solid legislation and application of emerging technologies, where experts and regulators work together to co-create legislation that is in step with the speed of innovation. RegLab aims to create an agile and conducive legislative environment that pioneers “regulatory innovation” as it develops legislation around emerging technologies in line with UAE’s Centennial 2071 plan.