Over regulation, slow response time and inconsistencies hurt GA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Numerous government regulations, slow response times for decisions, and frequent inconsistencies by the FAA are harming small general aviation businesses.

That’s the message the House Small Business Committee heard last week from a number of witnesses who own their own businesses, as well as officials from the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).

One of the biggest challenges small aviation businesses face is response times for FAA approvals, said John Uczekaj, president of Aspen Avionics.

He told the committee that each week businesses like his are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars because of approval delays from the FAA. When a business like Aspen Avionics begins the process of developing a certified product it must submit to a sequencing process by the FAA that is unpredictable and often results in increased development times and costs, he said.

There also is a lack of clarity and inconsistencies between certification offices in different FAA regions. Various offices interpret guidelines differently and often procedures followed on previous programs are implemented and interpreted differently on later programs. Changes in personnel in the middle of a program further complicates the problem, he said.

Additional work levied late in a recent Aspen program meant unplanned increased costs, he reported. This resulted in the loss of 13 high-paying jobs— 20 percent of the workforce — last October.

Current regulations, policies, and procedures make it difficult or impossible for general aviation to adopt and implement new technology, the head of Royal Aircraft Services of Hagerstown, Md., told the committee. Austin Hefferman said certification for new aircraft is important, but reform efforts must be expanded to ensure that owners of existing aircraft can make safety improvements. Unless changes are made to speed up processes, there is question about whether GA can be properly equipped to operate when NextGen becomes required.

An example of FAA delays is the angle of attack indicator for small aircraft. It was approved early in February this year after three years of consideration.

Speaking for NBAA and his company, Ascension Air, Jamail Larkins told the committee alarming new policies for pilots are emerging without industry input. These include the controversial plan to subject pilots with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater to obstructive Sleep Apnea screening. He cited the value of business aviation to small businesses and communities of all sizes.

Hefferman reminded the Small Business Committee of the importance of GA to the nation. General aviation contributes approximately $150 billion to the annual domestic product and approximately 1.2 million jobs in communities nationwide. About 94% of the firms that provide cargo and passenger air transportation services are considered small businesses, as are 90% of businesses involved in the development and manufacture of aircraft and parts.


  1. says

    Government – Hello!
    Unless your on a municipal, county, or federal payroll, I think almost all of the general populace would agree, a CHANGE in the “business” model or methology of which government performs, is long over due!
    SLOUTION: IF and WHEN the time comes, ALL government is approach like any private sector business, that is; Income vs Expenses! How much income do WE need to provide the infrastructure, schools, services, etc and HOW (source) do we go about getting it – from the taxpayers! If the taxpayer DOESN’T have the ability to pay, we have a “problem” the problem stems from un unemployment or lack of – right? more Jobs here in the USA – not in India, China or South America! The “traders are BOTH bid government and the greed of corporate American

  2. Keith says

    I remember a Flying Magazine article from about 40 years ago which dubbed the FAA “Fat And Arrogant.”

    40 years of even more empire building and job justification haven’t slimmed it down any, nor made it the slightest bit less arrogant.

    I feel sorry for the folks there who are actually trying to do a good job, who actually LIKE airplanes, and who have to labor under the weight of appointees and examples of the Peter Principle.

  3. Greg W says

    NBAA is rightly focused on larger business aircraft and aircraft whose mission involves frequent IFR flight. That being considered, the example of an A.O.A. indicator is a relatively simple installation on a V.F.R. aircraft. The installation can not replace an existing required gauge, if no holes are required to be added to structural components for the installation it is a minor modification. If holes in structural members are needed, brackets are affixed by riveting or welding or the weight of the system exceeds one pound then it is a major mod. and requires a 337 form and weight and balance update. This applies to VFR operation, again, it cannot be a “primary” gauge and can not replace a required gauge/system. Think “portable GPS, no problem unless permanently mounted,then the above applies, but it can’t be used for “primary navigation or IFR unless it is a “certified unit and installation. As Kent said there are “ways around the regulations”, in this case the assumed regs. simply do not apply, match the aircraft,(and equipment), to the mission and things get much more “doable”.

  4. Tom says

    Regulations – too many – so cruel,
    The FAA moves without measure,
    Third class medical? Don’t need that rule,
    Sleep apnea additional pressure.

  5. Bob Cassidy says

    It is just a good thing that the FAA was not around when Orvil and Wilber were doing their thing or we will still be flying in hot air balloons!

  6. Kent Misegades says

    The FAA, like most federal agencies, government schools, the USPS, etc. are hopelessly beyond repair. Until they collapse under their own dead weight, the best way to deal with them is to go around them. Aircraft and component manufacturers would be wise to focus only on the homebuilding and LSA sector, with at most ASTM guidelines to follow. Free market competition provides by far the best source of regulation as only the strong will survive. Cessna just learned this lesson with its now defunct Skycatcher. For the same reason alternative schools are booming in America in the form of private, charter and home schools. The parents who wisely choose these can ignore all the turmoil in government schools, the latest caused by the dumbing-down effects of the Common Core standards. Take a cue from these parents – when faced with oppressive rules and slow bureaucrats, find a way around, above or underneath them and move forwards quickly.

    • says

      When a young person or “senior” desirous of “doing his/her own thing” ask for advice about a new business state-up venture of ANY kind, my first question to them is this; how long would it take ANY government law/regulation (or conveniently made up), if enforced, would it take to put you out of business – well, that’s how LONG you have to be in business!

      Kent; your FINAL sentence sums it all up – don’t expect government any time soon to cooperate with you – they HAVE the power and the time. Best treat them like a cornered (un-feed) Cobra – just quietly move around them!

  7. Joro Sciandra says

    I have just started my IFR training. I learned that I must learn chart symbols on a type of chart that has not been used in a very long time. If true then do I really need to continue my comments?

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