FAA Part 23 Coalition Letter
A day before a FAA public hearing on a Part 23 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, a GA industry coalition letter both recognized the FAA’s efforts to improve safety while streamlining the certification process AND strongly urged the agency to issue the final rule by the end of 2016.
Is that what this missive really meant?
The FAA issued a Federal Register notice calling for the public to attend a hearing on an NPRM entitled “Revision of Airworthiness Standards for Normal, Utility, Acrobatic and Commuter Category Airplanes.” The purpose of this meeting was not to receive comments on the “draft” language, but the intent was explained as follows:
“The purpose of the public meeting is for the FAA to explain and answer questions concerning the language related to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) (81 FR 13452, March 14, 2016).”
A cynic might cast aspersions that this additional, perhaps unnecessary, step was a delay tactic in this elongated proceeding.
First and foremost, the basic concepts incorporated in the revision to Part 23 were developed, drafted and substantiated by an Industry-FAA ARC (Part 23 Reorganization Aviation Rulemaking Committee) almost 10 years ago. Industry knows as much, if not more, about these new simpler certification rules.
Second, as admitted by senior FAA staff in a Congressional hearing, the internal review has consumed years as the lawyers and other staff have literally parsed every word in the well-prepared ARC draft.
Third, the frustration about the “all deliberate speed” progress of this new, innovative, efficient and engineering-substantiated approach moved Congress to action. GAMA testified at three Hill hearings at which the Members expressed their displeasure at the FAA’s pace. Ultimately, Congress enacted a bill directing the FAA to move on this important modernization rule. The result was the Small Airplane Revitalization Act (SARA), which was signed into law on Nov. 27, 2013.
Fourth, the FAA issued repeated updates/promises that the new Part 23 would be issued soon. Here are a few examples of the agency statements engendering negative industry responses:
- Part 23: The Massive, much awaited revision is here—initial observations on innovative GA aircraft certification by FAA
Given that history, the restraint shown by the signatories to a letter delivered the day before the College Park, GA hearing is to be commended. Here are the associations joining in this joint “petition”:
- General Aviation Manufacturers Association,
- Aircraft Electronics Association,
- Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association,
- Experimental Aircraft Association,
- Helicopter Association International,
- International Council of Air Shows,
- National Association of State Aviation Officials,
- National Air Transportation Association
- National Business Aviation Association.
That’s virtually a unanimous coalition. Their words subtly reflect their frustration, but also underline their enthusiasm for the pending rule. Here are a few quotes from the associations’ comments:
“The shift to proportional and objective-based rules within the Part 23 framework will provide general aviation with the ability to more effectively design, certify, produce, operate, and maintain the airplanes of today, and it will assure the future of general aviation will only be limited by human imagination.”
“Given the overwhelming support for this proposed rule, and the tremendous benefits it would offer to all facets of the general aviation community for years to come, we hope the current administration will put this well-crafted rule in place as soon as possible to allow our industry to innovate freely without being shackled by outdated restrictions,” GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said. “The increased harmonization between the FAA and other agencies worldwide will ensure the success of this effort and allow our industry to grow in ways we can’t even think of yet. It’s time for the FAA to finish this rule.”
“Part 23 reform is a critical issue to AOPA and our members, and we’ve taken an active role in every step of the process,” AOPA President Mark Baker remarked. “We’ll continue to work with FAA and other aviation organizations to move away from prescriptive design requirements and toward performance based standards. This is an important step in a process that we hope will ultimately increase safety and lower costs for pilots and aircraft manufacturers alike.”
“Completion of the Part 23 rule would be a tremendous step forward in opening the door for innovation in general aviation and continuing the legacy of American leadership in the world of flight,” noted Jack J. Pelton, CEO/Chairman of EAA. “This rule would not only bring new products to the market for today’s aircraft, it would help preserve thousands of vintage aircraft that are now part of the general aviation community.”
“HAI fully supports the FAA’s Part 23 reform initiative, which will enhance safety, move us toward performance-based standards, provide incentive for innovative applications, and enhance economic performance,” said HAI President and CEO Matt Zuccaro. “I look forward to continuing this collaborative stakeholder effort with regards to the reformation of FAR Parts 27 and 29 as they relate to helicopter certification.”
“Safety is priority one without question,” ICAS President John Cudahy said. “Part 23’s framework will enable our members to effectively keep their equipment in safe, up-to-date working order with fewer hurdles to compliance. That’s a win for safety, for our industry, and for general aviation.”
NASAO President Greg Principato added, “Our members across the country see this as a much-needed way to improve safety, promote general aviation, and increase jobs in the states by tapping into new technologies and ideas.”
“The FAA’s proposed rule recognizes that we live in an era of extraordinary innovation; its emphasis on performance-based standards will accelerate the availability of exciting new safety enhancing products to the aviation community,” stated NATA President and CEO Thomas L. Hendricks. “Just as important, performance-based standards will enhance regulatory clarity, assisting in efforts to increase regulatory consistency across the agency’s regions and offices.”
“We have long understood that streamlining the certification process for general aviation manufacturers, while preserving important safety requirements, will lead to swifter adoption of new aircraft designs and vital safety equipment, benefiting everyone from pilots and their passengers to manufacturers,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We thank the FAA for holding this important hearing, and we will continue working with the agency on these long-sought reforms.”
That’s an impressive array of positive support and it should motivate the FAA staff to expedite its final steps.
Hopefully, a final rule will be issued soon and will prove the above-mentioned cynic wrong.