FAA clears path for AOA installation in GA aircraft

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  The FAA has simplified the design approval requirements for angle of attack (AOA) indicator in general aviation aircraft.

Under the new policy, manufacturers must build AOA indicator systems according to standards from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ATSM) and apply for FAA approval for the design via a letter certifying that the equipment meets ATSM standards and was produced under required quality systems. The FAA’s Chicago Aircraft Certification Office will process all applications to ensure consistent interpretation of the policy, FAA officials said.

“We have eliminated major barriers so pilots can add another valuable cockpit aid for safety,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “These indicators provide precise information to the pilot, and could help many avoid needless accidents.”

AOA devices supplement airspeed indicators and stall warning systems, alerting pilots of a low airspeed condition before a dangerous aerodynamic stall occurs, especially during takeoff and landing.

AOA indicators may help prevent loss of control in small aircraft because they provide a more reliable indication of airflow over the wing, FAA officials noted. Although they have been available for some time, the effort and cost associated with gaining installation approval has limited their use in general aviation. The streamlined requirements are expected to lead to greater use of the devices and increased safety in general aviation, FAA officials said.

FAA officials added they believe this streamlined policy may serve as a prototype for production approval and installation of other add-on aircraft systems in the future.

The new AOA policy is available here.

Comments

  1. will says

    I guess the administrator feels like he did something to earn his pay. I have used them in heavier aircraft like Citations and King Airs, but a Cherokee 140? Seriously?

  2. Greg W says

    AOA indicators have been allowed by the FAA for VFR operations. What has not been is replacing an existing system with them or using them as a “primary” gauge. This is no different than a non-certified GPS, it is okay to use but not as “primary”, not IFR and it can not replace a required instrument, (compass, airspeed,etc.). I think every one should be able to fly if they want, however if the pilot cannot reliably hit the first 1/4 of an average 3000 ft. ,or longer, runway they need to practice not get another gauge to help them land. Civil aircraft newer than about 1938 will give plenty of notice that something is wrong, mushy control and stall buffet are results of AOA, airspeed gets you close, the modern licensed runway is way bigger than we need. The military aircraft are not CAR 3, FAR 23 airplanes that had to demonstrate benign stall/spin characteristics. The military flys on the edge we don’t have to, fly the airplane not the gauges. Simpler certifications are great, but when in the air you fly the machine don’t let it fly you.

  3. says

    People are surprised that the FAA has taken some actions—just look–its a corporation getting into the owners pockets–the FAA jumps on that but for two years we have tried to get them to work on a better system on the medical—we are still waiting!!!—I read the reports from the military—its nice when you get a gift from the taxpayers and then forget those taxpayers are also owners and caretakers of General Aviation, like SemperFi will make you a better pilot–and all along I thought it was honest hard training which the taxpayer picks up the tab.

  4. tomspann says

    I used an AOA in 1961 with first my first carrier landing and all 25 years there after with carrier landings, shore base landings and for best cruise. It was one of the most important and easy to read instruments in our cockpits.. While has it taken the FAA this long to dump the bureaucratic regulations to let civilian pilots have such a wonderful safety improving flight instrument?. Thank god it has finally happened. If you own an aircraft install one soon and you will see how much easier it will be to be at a precise speed and attitude for approach and landings. Semper Fi

  5. Rob Tucker says

    Good to hear FAA! Preventing loss of control may be the main occasional benefit but the daily benefit will be more efficient flight. I’m looking forward to installing AOA mostly to support increased precision in climb and cruise.

    This said, the devil is in the FAA’s details. Are they saying the STC requirement is waived or automatically granted for all devices that meet ASTM specs? What do they mean by the phrase “The FAA’s Chicago Aircraft Certification Office will process all applications to ensure consistent interpretation of the policy . . .”?

  6. Vervoort Karel says

    It is unbelievable it took the FAA so long to introduce AOA in civilian aircraft. In the military we used the AOA for more then just a stall warning device. It helped us flying economic cruise even, with the varying weight of a cargo plane….

  7. says

    Way to go, FAA! AOA indicators are a staple on military aircraft; providing clear and simple indications of an oncoming stall. Plus, an AOA indicator’s a great instructional tool to relate airspeed, load factor, weight and other factors to stall speed. Some will say that this is just one more topic to integrate into an already crowded primary syllabus, but I think it will significantly improve stall/spin safety and awareness.

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