FAA Policy Statement on New GA Safety Devices
Non-Required Safety Enhancing Equipment (NORSEE)
A number of free-market advocates have recently castigated the FAA for inhibiting innovation in aviation. Comes now a series of experts, stakeholders (i.e. companies which actually make planes) to praise the agency, not to bury it, as Brutus might say in a somewhat convoluted caesarean fashion.
Policy No: PS-AIR-21.8-1602 was issued by the FAA’s Susan J. M. Cabler Acting Manager, Design, Manufacturing, & Airworthiness Division Aircraft Certification Service. The subject of this document is “Non-Required Safety Enhancing Equipment” (NORSEE) that is determined to be a minor change to type design and whose failure condition is minor.
The Policy Statement is an unusual, if not unique, initiative as to approvals for changes to aircraft. One of the agency’s cornerstone premises of safety involves reliance of a strenuous approval process for the installation of any new equipment on a certificated plane. Engineering analyses had to be submitted to the FAA’s satisfaction and detailed instructions for installation had to be reviewed. Time and expense associated with these regulatory steps added to delays in bringing new safety instruments to GA aircraft.
The premise of PS-AIR-21.8-1602 is that the risks associated with the installation of the articles mentioned are sufficiently low to support the benefits of this class of non-essential safety-enhancing equipment. The category is generally described as follows:
“…variety of uses including—
- Increasing overall situation awareness;
- Providing additional information other than the aircraft primary system;
- Providing independent warning, cautionary, or advisory indications; and
- Providing additional occupant safety protection.”
The inclusive list of examples was as follows:
- “Traffic advisory system,
- Terrain advisory (such as a terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS),
- Attitude indicator,
- Weather advisory,
- Crashworthiness improvement,
- Configuration advisory (such as gear advisory for floats and takeoff/landing configuration),
- Supplemental indication (such as a fuel flow or fuel quantity indicator),
- Monitoring/detection system (such as a smoke, carbon monoxide, or fire detector),
- Extinguishing system (such as a fire extinguisher), and
- Stability and control (such as an autopilot or stability augmentation system).”
The FAA has committed to expanding this list and has established a website where additions will be updated.
The mission was summarized with these words:
“The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) mission is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world. AIR: 2018 calls on the FAA to improve aviation safety through a variety of methods. One of those is ‘to encourage and enable voluntary safety enhancements’ as found in the AIR 2015 Roadmap for AIR: 2018. Until recently, the FAA has not differentiated between non-required equipment and the special class of non-required equipment that can enhance safety. To support its mission, the FAA is implementing an approval process to allow installation of NORSEE in the general aviation (GA) and rotorcraft fleets. The intent is not to 2 bypass the existing certification processes or the current level of FAA oversight, but to standardize the approval process specific to NORSEE.”
The support was strong from AOPA:
- “AOPA and manufacturers have long desired streamlining FAA approval of non-required safety equipment in an effort to modernize and increase safety in existing GA aircraft. The FAA and GA community has made it a top area of focus to prevent and reduce the number of LOC-related accidents. AOPA is pleased to see that the NORSEE Policy is a continuation and expansion of the FAA’s current policies aimed at making it easier and less costly to install NORSEE equipment.”
The Administrator gave a speech to GA’s mecca—the EAA AirVenture and he talked about several key topics—3rd class medical certificate, ADS-B and the new Part 23 process. In addition, Mr. Huerta said:
We also published a new policy to encourage general aviation aircraft owners to voluntarily install non-required safety enhancing equipment on airplanes and helicopters. This will improve safety, reduce costs, and make it easier to install equipment like traffic advisory systems, terrain awareness and warning systems, attitude indicators, fire extinguishing systems, and autopilot or stability augmentation systems.
Such outside-of-the-box thinking by the FAA should enhance safety in ways which regulatory constraints would have heretofore inhibited, if not prevented.