The National Civil Aviation Agency (Anac) took an important step in the regulatory modernization process earlier this year, when it published Ordinance 10.219/SIA, prepared by the Superintendence of Airport Infrastructure.

The ordinance provides for the experimental regulatory environment related to topics of interest to the superintendence and aims to encourage innovation in the areas of operational safety and civil aviation security and facilitation (AVSEC).

The initiative also aims to increase competition between companies, stimulate internationalization and attract investment. It also enhances the regulatory framework so that it can contemplate changes in the civil aviation sector brought about by the adoption of new technologies.

The ordinance establishes rules so that participants can compose the regulatory sandbox portfolio and creates procedures for the Superintendence of Airport Infrastructure to monitor the projects. In this testing environment, market agents and regulatory bodies will be able to work together to develop new technologies and obtain subsidies for the formulation of regulations more adjusted to the activities of the airline industry.

The concept of regulatory sandbox was introduced into Brazilian legislation by Complementary Law 182/21, which established the legal framework for startups and innovative entrepreneurship. The standard has enabled the creation of experimental regulatory programs (regulatory sandbox) to make the application of standards more flexible in controlled and specific contexts, which helps to stimulate research, development and innovation.

The use of the regulatory sandbox allows regulated entities to carry out their activity under less bureaucratic rules and more appropriate to their different business models. The flexibility of regulations in specific cases and in a controlled context is the main advantage brought by this testing environment.

The possibility of adapting the standards to the characteristics of the activity developed by regulated entities helps to stimulate the creation of innovative projects and brings more freedom to the market.

The regulatory sandbox also contributes to reducing costs and maturation time of products, as well as accelerating the learning curve of the regulatory bodies themselves.

In civil aviation, the first term of admission to this test environment was signed in April this year. That was when Anac signed an agreement with Vinci Airports to enable the implementation of an innovative system of lighting taxiways, landing and takeoff with individual sources of photovoltaic energy at the airports of Tabatinga and Tefé, in the state of Amazonas.

Initiatives like this can greatly contribute to the development of the Brazilian airline industry, especially in areas that use state-of-the-art technology, such as remotely piloted aircraft (RPAS and drones) and electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLS).

Because they use advanced technology and in a constant process of updating and transformation, RPAs and eVTOLs often end up on the margins of industry regulation. With the regulatory sandbox in civil aviation, new models of drone operations and technological solutions will be able to be tested, which will help to develop a suitable regulatory framework to regulate the operation of these aircraft models.