TAC Explains: What is conformity in aircraft certification?

New wave of advanced aircraft entrants provides detailed look into the complex certification process

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Release Date
March 27, 2024
TAC Explains: What is conformity in aircraft certification?

For most of its recent history, the civil aviation industry has understood some basic facts about aircraft certification, namely that it’s complicated, expensive and always seems to take longer than initially projected. However, the nitty-gritty details of certification have generally been left to a small subgroup of experts who purport to understand the machinations of aviation regulators.

That has changed dramatically in recent years as developers of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, under pressure to demonstrate progress to investors, have trumpeted various milestones along their certification journeys. Many of these are minor wins that legacy aircraft manufacturers would never think of publicizing; nevertheless, they offer important evidence that eVTOL developers are indeed advancing toward a commercial product.

Yet, these companies must walk a fine line between overwhelming investors with detail and oversimplifying an inherently complex and drawn-out process. Not surprisingly, misunderstandings are rife.

Related: Understanding Joby’s progress toward a certified eVTOL 

Last year, The Air Current began delving into the specifics of certification by explaining how Joby Aviation’s “five stages of certification” map onto the Federal Aviation Administration’s own model of the type certification process. Now, TAC breaks down another certification-related concept that has recently surfaced in press releases and earnings calls: conformity.

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