It isn’t often we are given an opportunity to give the FAA feedback — especially when they are asking for it. Well, you now have an opportunity to offer your two cents (or more).
Following are a few words from Haym Benaroya, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Rutgers University, about what he is hoping to learn from those of us who live general aviation.
Knowing there are some strong opinions out there, if you’d rather make certain Haym (and the FAA) know your thoughts without your name associated with them, send your comments to me and I’ll remove all identifying information before forwarding them on to Haym.
Otherwise comment directly to Haym at firstname.lastname@example.org or Haym Benaroya, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 98 Brett Road, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854-8058.
Take it away Haym…
“I am in the middle of a study for the FAA on general aviation with a focus on how to move forward on improving safety and I am asking for your thoughts and feedback.
Of course, safety is a function of numerous variables. A good number of these variables are not explicitly engineering; rather, they are human factors. After all, who the pilot is, their personality, skill level, and comfort with risk have a significant impact on their piloting choices and outcomes.
Other variables are technical — the design of the airplane, how it is equipped, how old it is, its usage and repair histories.
While safety has improved in GA, the accident rate is still too high and higher than those of other modes of transportation. Some of this is human-factors related. Some is due to the aging of the airplane fleet and the many issues that surround its maintenance.
GA is a passion, a pastime, and a business sector. It is both art and engineering — people control the airplanes and the airplanes are technological entities that need regular and quality maintenance.
GA is an activity of great importance to the nation with a significant economic contribution to the GDP and the trade balance, as well as for the critical services GA provides to many people across the country. It is also a completely regulated system. The FAA certifies all airplanes and maintenance for operational safety.
There are natural tensions between the community — pilots, operators, maintenance facilities and parts manufacturers, insurance agencies — and the FAA.
GA is entering an era of competing trends. There are fewer pilots every year, but the needs that GA meet is larger. Airplanes are kept in service longer, well beyond design lives, but are maintained to be safe even though a large number of parts are now manufactured overseas where thereare certification gaps. Costs of upgrading airplane structural/mechanical components and avionics continue to decrease, but sometimes more robust components result in more wear and tear on the structure, resulting in faster aging issues, and advanced avionics sometimes lead to confusion in the cockpit at the worst times.
As certification requirements are modernized and made more efficient, there is a need for an updating of the partnership between the GA community and the FAA. In fiscally challenging times, creative approaches can be designed to efficiently satisfy safety requirements while not overburdening the community with unnecessary rules and, as NextGen becomes the operational framework by 2020, creating an environment of regulatory stability.
Given the widely distributed nature of the community, there are serious challenges to maintaining a database of maintenance records across the fleet. Such a database is very useful to the owners/operators, providing them with current information upon which to base their service schedules — and useful to the regulatory agency charged with oversight and responsibility for the minimization of risk.
While the reporting requirements are a burden to maintenance crews, one may conclude that the benefits will outweigh the costs as the fleets continue to age.
To better understand the state and views of the GA community I have prepared a few questions for pilots, owners, operators, repair technicians, manufacturers, parts manufacturers, insurance providers, and others with an interest and a stake in the health of GA.
Clearly, there will be different views within the community. Please feel free to answer any question with as much detail as you wish.
If there are topics that you would like to address that are not embodied in these questions, please discuss those as well.
The views that you provide will be at the very least summarized in my report with numerous quotes.
- What excessive burdens exist for members of the GA community?
- Where do members of the community see benefits to an increased role for the FAA?
- From personal experience, are the technical or non-technical issues in GA more challenging for you to manage and tackle? Are there simple fixes?
- What are the views of the community on NextGen?
- The Part 23 Reorganization Aviation Rulemaking Committee led to the 2013 report to the FAA providing recommendations for increasing the safety of small general aviation airplanes certified to 14 CFR Part 23. There were numerous detailed recommendations, in particular reorganize Part 23 using “performance and complexity” criteria rather than “aircraft weight and propulsion type” familiar with this process, do you have any views?
- Where do the different members of the community diverge? For example, are parts manufacturers’ interests convergent with those of the owners? With those of the fleet operators?
Thank you for your time and interest.