WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bill introduced in Congress May 6 requiring the FAA to set a date for implementing changes in Part 23 is only a part of major changes for certification of aircraft and aircraft products.
For the past 18 months, 180 people have been working on an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to arrive at recommendations with the goal, as stated by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, of “doubling safety and cutting certification costs in half.”
This has been a worldwide effort. Representatives from nations across the globe have participated and are, like the United States, looking to put new and updated regulations on the books. Products developed in other nations, too, are subject to certification rules based on older technology.
Present certification regulations dictate the criteria planes and products must meet. Rules are rigid and outdated. Aircraft and products now must meet requirements based on technology 40 to 50 years old. To produce a new product using modern technology requires getting a special rule. This can be expensive, time sensitive, and often is not worth the effort, so efforts to bring new products to the consumer have been hampered.
The ARC set out to solve this. In its report delivered to the FAA early in May, the ARC recommended setting performance-based design requirements, rather than prescriptive, technology-dependent requirements that rely on assumptions based on weight and propulsion type. This can simplify the current process and give manufacturers flexibility, according to the report.
The FAA has been working along with the ARC and is in agreement with the changes.
The FAA and the corresponding agencies in other nations now must take these recommendations and work them into their own rules and regulations. To move this along in the United States, Representative Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) introduced a bill to set a specific date for the FAA to implement ARC’s recommendations. The bill has bi-partisan support, with a number of co-sponsors, including Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Richard Nolan (D-Minn.), and Todd Rokita (R-Ind.).
The bill requires the FAA to have the new regulations ready for implementation no later than the end of 2015. As well as the United States, Canada and nations in South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa are moving to get their regulations in line with the ARC recommendations.
Pompeo included in his bill (H.R. 1848) sections citing the importance of general aviation to the nation’s economic growth and to an effective transportation infrastructure for communities and nations around the world. Small aircraft, he said, comprise nearly 90% of FAA-type certified general aviation aircraft.
The average small airplane in the United States is now 40 years old and the regulatory barriers to bringing new designs to market are resulting in a lack of innovation and investment in small airplane design, he noted.
Little opposition to the bill is expected as it wends it way through the halls on Capitol Hill.