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ARTICLE: Bringing the cost of flying down


AOPA and GAMA held a webinar on the subject of rewriting (perhaps a better term would be “rethinking”) Part 23’s certification standards. Their presentation was impressive, starting with the analysis of trends which are causing a decline in the GA aircraft certification, the increase in the costs of this category of aircraft and the reduction in the GA pilot population. There will be a release of the slides used in their presentation; so these details will be discussed later.

The Part 23 ARC, which includes not only the usual Washington policy players, has participants from EASA and the Civil Aviation Authorities with major certification agendas. By their inclusion, the end product of the ARC will result in “preharmonization” of the new standards; the CAAs have agreed to adopt the new standards soon after the ARC is completed. That’s a major advance in global regulations!

While that is exceptional, what really merits highlighting is a totally new regulatory construct that will allow simplification of the rules, quicker adoption of enhanced standards and matching of the certification standards to the complexity of the aircraft to be certificated. The recognition of the need for these radically different concepts began with some historical analysis.

They recognized that the 1994-1996 harmonization with the EU standards with FAR Part 23 and other updates to the new technologies resulted in a significant increase in the cost burden of obtaining a certificate. That initial premise caused the regulators to refocus on new technologies that might increase safety and the concomitant observation that the historic regulatory processes have inhibited and delayed their implementation.

GAMA and AOPA reviewed those technologies. They were selected based on careful review of the major causes of GA accidents, assessment of why systems might economically reduce those risks and the inclusion of those systems on aircraft. The release of the slides will provide more information about these potential innovations.

The regulatory innovation was explained—the standards of some 36 regulations will be expressed in one Part 23 section. The real engineering criteria will be incorporated in ASTM standards, which will both allow for greater specificity and facilitate the application of rules appropriate to new technologies. This new regime will replace the interminable DoT OST/OMB reviews, issuance of an NPRM, comments, review and final rule promulgation.

For those who have spent time working Part 23 issues, this new regulatory rubric is most exciting.

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