Has EASA moved ahead of FAA in performance-based aircraft certification?

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ED Decision 2019/003/R

AMC & GM to Part 21 — Issue 2, Amendment 8




EASA issues a Means of Compliance for Part 21

Applicant for Small Aircraft Certification more proportionate approach

Where is the FAA?

Acceptable Means of Compliance and Guidance Material to Annex I (Part-21) Issue 2, Amendment 8 RMT.0689

Executive Summary

This Decision introduces new Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) for Part-21 production and design organisation approvals, which complement the existing AMC. The objective is to provide a more proportionate approach for small, non-complex organisations that produce lower-risk products and the parts installed on these products.

The new AMC shifts the focus of both the applicant and the competent authority onto the effects on the output of the process, instead of the focus being on the detailed step-by-step documentation of the process. This is a more product-oriented approach. The AMC provides for more proportionality for the affected organisations, without having any impact on the level of safety. It is avoiding an over-burdensome and disproportionate administrative application of regulations for these small and simple organisations.

The AMC can also serve as the baseline when a means of compliance with the Subpart G and J requirements needs to be developed outside the applicability of the AMC. In that case, coordination is needed between the applicant and the competent authority to review and, when necessary, to complement the baseline with more stringent or detailed processes or procedures so as to provide a consistent and acceptable result. The AMC can be used by small companies that design and produce low-risk general aviation (GA) aircraft within the current Part-21.

The AMC also allows experience to be gained for a possible future combined (design and production) company approval. It is anticipated that it will be used until amendments to Part-21, based on the changes brought about by the new Basic Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2018/1139), allow for new concepts for a more proportionate regulatory system. At that point, the current AMC may need to be revisited.

Action area: General aviation

Affected rules: AMC/GM to Part-21

Affected stakeholders: Design, production and maintenance approval holders; owners of simple aircraft

Driver: Efficiency/proportionality

Rulemaking group: N/A

Impact assessment: None

Rulemaking Procedure: Accelerated

The text of this Decision has been developed by EASA supported by a task force, and a focused consultation with 
affected stakeholders. The Advisory Bodies were consulted in accordance with Article 16 ‘Special rulemaking 
procedure: accelerated procedure’ of MB Decision No 18-2015. EASA has taken the decision to follow the procedure
laid down in that Article, as this regulatory proposal affects a limited group of stakeholders.

Providing a common baseline for small companies to show compliance

The AMC for ELA provides a means of compliance for a limited scope of aircraft. Its principles can, however, also serve as the baseline when a means of compliance is being developed for small and simple companies that design/produce outside the applicability of the AMC-ELA. This assumes that the process can primarily be controlled via the outcome (the product).

 AMC: a presumption of compliance

In the initial proposed draft AMC, which was provided for the focused consultation workshop, flexibility and tailoring was built into the AMC. However, when following an AMC, it is presumed that the related requirement is complied with. This was no longer true in the initial draft, in which the AMC allowed choices that did not, in all cases, result in an acceptable showing of compliance, depending on the complexity of the organisation and the design.

EASA issuance of this Part 21 AMC is an impressive demonstration of its commitment to the Principles of Performance v. Prescription of the innovative reissuance of Part 23. Both EASA and the FAA participated in that ground-breaking change to the certification process.

In the promulgation of the new standard aircraft approval criteria and implementation of those rules, EASA moved more expeditiously than its American counterpart. In fact, this history of the FAA’s receptivity before and after rulemaking suggests that some within the agency were not thrilled with the new approach (a sampling of posts over 6 years):

Bill Would Enact Part 23 ARC Recommendations

The FAA should expedite the Part 23 revisions for its own benefit & to follow Voltaire

Why did it take so long for the FAA

Part 23: The Massive, much awaited revision is here—initial observations on innovative GA aircraft certification by FAA

Part 23 is here, it’s in effect & now— will it work?

The New Part 23 may lead to a new AIR organization: why & what?

Part 23 Means of Compliance, the nitty gritty of performance-based certification










As the last post indicates, the FAA has issued some 63 Means of Compliance, but the EASA more proportionate approach for small, non-complex organisations that produce lower-risk products” exhibits even greater flexibility in the certification of the “small aircraft”[1].

The FAA Aircraft Certification organization has had to deal with several executive changes, reorganizations/transformation and the partial shutdown.  All of those disruptions have affected the pace of projects and the air morale; so, there may well be a comparable set of policy statements with greater application flexibility. Until such guidance is issued, it looks as though EASA is ahead of the FAA in adopting a performance-based certification regime.


[1] ED Decision 2019/003/R did not define what a “small aircraft” may be.


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