Airbus Helicopters and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to develop the next generation of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) platforms and associated regulatory frameworks.

According to Airbus, the agreement includes cooperation in areas such as high-speed flights with racer demonstrators, thermal / electrical hybridisation of rotorcraft (eVTOL) and condition-based maintenance.

Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even said: “Innovation that benefits customers is at the heart of Airbus Helicopters strategy and we are committed to working hand-in-hand with authorities around our innovation projects with the same professional approach, experience and spirit that have driven our legacy products.”

As part of the agreement, the focus will also be on certifying new piloting assistance systems.

EASA executive director Patrick Ky said: “The learnings we derive from cutting edge technologies play a significant role in helping us to prepare our certification methodologies for these new advancements.

“The cooperation on innovation with Airbus Helicopters represents an important contribution to this strategy.”

In a separate statement, the company announced the inauguration of its highly automated fuselage structure assembly line for A320 Family aircraft in Hamburg.

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The assembly line is responsible for joining single fuselage shells into sections, as well as the final assembly of single sections to aircraft fuselages.

With a special focus on manufacturing longer sections for the A321LR aircraft, the new facility comprises 20 robots, automated positioning by laser measurement and a digital data acquisition system.

It also features a new logistics concept, as well as novel technologies in material and parts logistics to optimise production.

In July last year, Airbus agreed to partner with Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and EASA to develop safety and regulatory standards for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in urban environments.