President signs Small Plane Revitalization Act

On Nov. 27, President Barack Obama signed into law the Small Plane Revitalization Act, a bill that requires the FAA to adopt new certification regulations that should reduce the cost of aircraft and avionics upgrades.

The Small Airplane Revitalization Act (SARA) gives the FAA until Dec. 31, 2015, to adopt changes to the Federal Aviation Regulation Part 23, which governs the certification of many general aviation aircraft.

Manufacturers say that a streamlined Part 23 will reduce certification costs and the price of new aircraft. The changes should also reduce the certification cost and price of modifications of all types, from avionics to airbags and seats to restraints, making it more affordable for owners to install modern safety equipment in older aircraft.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, who favors a revised Part 23, has stated that the changes will double safety at half the cost.

“Passage of the Small Airplane Revitalization Act (SARA) is great news for the general aviation community,” said Mark Baker, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). “Reforming the way the FAA certifies aircraft can help more pilots fly more safely while lowering their costs — and that’s exactly the kind of support general aviation needs to thrive. We’re appreciative of bipartisan efforts of the House and Senate GA Caucus members who developed this bill and saw it through.”

SARA was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in May and passed in July by a 410-0 vote. It was introduced by House General Aviation Caucus member Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas). Original cosponsors included House GA Caucus co-chair Sam Graves (R-Missouri) and GA Caucus members Dan Lipinski (D-Illinois), Rick Nolan (D-Minnesota) and Todd Rokita (R-Indiana). In the Senate, a similar bill was also introduced in May by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who are also GA Caucus members.

The two measures were reconciled, with final passage in Congress on Nov. 14, and subsequently sent to President Obama for his signature.

“We applaud President Obama for making the Small Airplane Revitalization Act the law of the land today,” GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said. “The tremendous support this law enjoyed in Congress, and the speed with which it moved through the legislative process, demonstrates a bipartisan commitment to safety, as well as a recognition that the FAA’s overly bureaucratic, outdated, and prescriptive regulations must change. We appreciate the widespread support among members of Congress for this landmark legislation, and want to especially thank the bill’s lead sponsors, Congressman Pompeo and Senator Klobuchar, for their leadership and commitment in ensuring this bill reached the President’s desk. This law is a win for the government as well as general aviation airframers and suppliers, but more importantly, for the general aviation pilots and passengers who will be able to benefit more rapidly from new safety-enhancing technologies.”


  1. Richard Miles says

    Twice the Safety at Half the Cost? or Double the Regulation at Quadruple the Price?

    It would be nice to think that small plane certification will be improved and that the industry could once again thrive but if you read through the FAA’s final report on Part 23 reorganization you will see we are continuing down the same route that has brought the industry to the brink of collapse. The document shows that we understand many of the problems – that general aviation certification is too complex and bureaucratic. But this wordy and convoluted document of 335 pages shows that those in charge – agency administrators, lawmakers, and association executives don’t have a clue. This document calls for new procedures, new rules. It does not reduce the regulatory burden, it will exacerbate the crisis.

    While there are some concessions and clearly an aim to make it easier and more affordable to maintain a small plane that goal will never materialize. The new law will put greater pressure on FAA employees to improve safety while giving them less control. It has been widely understood for quite some time that certification standards are applied inconsistently from district to district. The approach has been to assume this is a failing of the FAA employee. No one is asking the important question – is the certification book flawed, are rules too vague in places, too rigid in others, is it too complex for an individual human to read and comprehend? Most of us realize that the majority of FAA employees are diligent. Most are doing their best to follow policy and procedure. What is needed is for all to step back, look at the big picture and see where the blame lies. Can we really improve safety simply by having committee meetings, calling for community input, drafting regulation, passing laws, piling on more process and procedure?

    Flying small planes is a high-risk activity. Helping the industry thrive is much less important to an employee working in a governmental agency than making sure the paperwork they submit to their supervisors is spotless. A much better model to improve safety is to remove all certification regulation for all aircraft – all aircraft. Leave it to pilots, manufacturers, airlines and insurance companies to find the right balance between the need and desire to fly and a reasonable level of safety.

  2. Ron Newburg says

    These comments s/b in chronological order, if at all possible. One comment usually generates another comment and this “important” fact is loss if the newest comment gets “buried”

  3. George Erdel says

    This is absolutely FOOLISH. This is in no way enhancing the safety of the public and it took this idiot with a willing congress to pass such foolish legislation.

    • S. Lanchester says

      Well, you have amply demonstrated that you have a strong opinion backed up by iron-clad name calling and big capital letters You claim to know a lot about idiots and what is foolish, and you clearly have a lot of first-hand experience with both.

  4. Walter Hake says

    As long as the FAA exist. CYA will dominate, They have no incentives to make risk dicisions. Annual inspections are ridiculous, light plane spcifications are out of date.

  5. Scott says

    2nd comment; Im all for making GA cheaper as I’d love to see GA as affordable as automobiles, however isn’t this regulation similar to what happened in the defense industry…. Mil Standards were taken away… Yet, those who want to show high quality designs (and therefore win a contract) still use Mil-Stds, because they are technically sound. Don’t throw the baby (50 years of collected and collective engineering experience in the CFR FARs) out with the bathwater, that’s all.

  6. Scott says

    When an owner maintains their airplane on their own with less regulations, and it falls out of the sky because they were too cheap to do it right or miss something, and it lands in, say, a pub, and kills people, what then? Do the families of the hurt now get to sue (and automatically win since lack of oversight or records) the owner or operator or the aircraft for negligence? So, while regulation costs go down, insurance rates should go up?

    • ron says

      Have a look at the Canadian experience near the end of the FAA document. Experience accumulated over the past 10 years showed virtually ZERO (1) maintenance related accidents!
      Mountains, weather, & pilot errors prevail!

    • Mikw White says

      Don’t worry. The rules affect CFR Part 23. The rule for maintaining airplanes, CFR Part 43, is not affected so an aircraft owner or aircraft maintainer will still be prohibited from skimping on maintenance.

      • Ron Newburg says

        Go to page 309 and onward. The owner of the aircraft will be allowed to maintain his own aircraft much the same as he would maintain his own car! Certified parts will not be a prerequisite!
        A “starter engaged” warning light (critical for Continental Engines) would cost $5.00 instead of $500.00!
        Parts / appliances and other stuff, certified for other aircraft, that are suitable for your own aircraft can be installed without “big brothers” permission!

        The aircraft owner can do as he pleases, installing parts HE (or his advisor) deems to be acceptable.
        I am a Canadian and our “Owner Maintained Aircraft” have not been “falling out of the skies”.
        Given the opportunity, I believe aircraft owners will seek the advice & assistance of qualified, knowledgeable individuals. Your A&Ps will be busier than ever, maintaining your aircraft to a higher level at a lower cost.

  7. Greg W says

    I surly hope that this will help with the cost of new parts and aircraft. If the bill that was signed into law is the same as the report that has been linked by others on this posting it looks good at this time. A big concern to me is the “owner maintenance”, the proposal dated June 5th, states that the aircraft can be returned to standard category, if that remains so great, if not, it is a problem. Just as with operating under the sport pilot rules, if an aircraft was modified out of those performance levels,(usually by gross weight), it can not be operated under S.P. rules ever again, even if returned to its earlier configuration. I have been involved with aircraft from Canada that were “owner maintained” and it is a big deal getting times and providence on all the parts in the aircraft to return them to standard category in the U.S. Depending on the airplane ,not worth the cost of importing the airplane as essentially a full “restoration”/conformity inspection must be done ,including opening up the engine to identify parts and A.D. compliance, log book conformation of compliance has not been allowed as it is with a standard annual condition inspection.

    • ron says

      Once a Canadian aircraft goes into the “owner maintained” category, forget about ever restoring it back to the normal, certified category. The prop and engine and airframe data plates MUST BE XXXXX out when it goes into the “owner maintained” category.
      None of us Canadians would ever want to GO BACK!!!
      The proposed USA / FAA rules are much more “friendly” but probably unrealistic when it comes to going back into the normal certified / commercial / category.

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