GAO says FAA Part 23 transition- poor implementation- what happened to the best-laid plans?

Robert Burns quote
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FAA Part 23 transition Challenging

From Prescriptive to Performance new skills for Staff

Plans to manage HR transition was good, but implementation weak : GAO

The amendment of 14 CFR Part 23 from prescriptive to performance required tremendous thought, effort, consultation, drafting, revisions and thought about this new, innovative aircraft certification standard. This transformation posed many needed changes, and a transition plan was carefully developed.

FAA transformation plan

Senior management recognized that this substantive change would impact all levels of the AIR service and to match staff capabilities with organization mission, a new org chart was designed :

.Post Part 23 org task chart

The preparation seems to have anticipated the need to manage the human resources and performance measures to meet the challenges of a new Part 23, but here are quotes from the GAO report:

FAA staff who perform design reviews expressed uncertainty about the level of detail that applicants need to provide when showing how their designs meet the new regulations. According to the staff and GAO’s review, this and other challenges are partly due to a lack of guidance on how to address issues created by this new approach

FAA officials stated that they provided training on the new process, but FAA staff described the training as high level and said more detailed information, including updated guidance, is needed

FAA has not developed performance measures for the revised regulations or a plan to develop such measures. FAA noted that the intent of its shift to performance-based regulations was to improve safety, reduce regulatory cost burden, and spur innovation and technology adoption for small airplanes.

GAO has previously noted the importance of using performance measures to assess whether agencies’ efforts are achieving their intended goals.FAA officials stated that they have not been directed to develop performance measures specific to the implementation of performance-based regulations for small airplanes and do not have a plan to do so

 

The difference between the expressed intentions of the AIR executives and the reality perceived by the field explains the Robert Burns quote. Hopefully, with this report, the FAA management will quickly implement the promised courses and systems!!!

Part 23 awry


 

GAO Calls for Better Training, Tracking of Cert Changes

by Kerry Lynch

 – November 17, 2020, 12:08 PM

While the FAA has moved forward on sweeping changes in how it approaches Part 23 aircraft certification projects, the agency needs to provide more detailed training to inspectors and better evaluate whether the changes are working as intended, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) told Congress.

GAO report cover

The FAA overhauled its Part 23 regulations in 2016, adopting a performance-based approach to certification. Under this approach, the regulations do not prescribe specific methods of achieving the required results.

Conceding that this approach, which took effect in 2017, is still early in the implementation, the GAO said in its report to Congress that the FAA “has faced delays and challenges in its initial design reviews under this new approach.” The government watchdog noted that FAA staff have said they were uncertain about the level of detail that applicants must provide to demonstrate their designs meet the regulations.

change in FAR Part 23

“This and other challenges are partly due to a lack of guidance on how to address issues created by this new approach,” GAO contended. The FAA has provided training, but FAA staff have described the training as more high level and believe they need more detailed guidance. “Taking steps to provide additional information to FAA staff would help address the challenges staff are facing, reducing potential delays and inconsistencies in reviews and ensuring airplane designs fulfill FAA’s safety requirements,” the GAO said.

Further, the FAA has not developed performance measures for the changes in Part 23 certification. The move toward performance-based regulations is designed to improve safety, reduce regulatory costs, and spur innovation and technology. However, GAO said, “Without performance measures, FAA will face difficulties in determining the effects of the revised regulations.”

GAO issued seven recommendations surrounding providing more complete guidance to FAA staff and developing metrics to track the effects of the performance-based approach.

  1. The Executive Director of the Aircraft Certification Service should assess the resources needed to efficiently implement Amendment 64.
  2. The Executive Director of the Aircraft Certification Service should provide information to help staff link ASTM consensus standards to Amendment 64 regulations.
  3. The Executive Director of the Aircraft Certification Service should develop procedures for staff’s review of applicants’ proposed means of compliance under Amendment 64, including how the means of compliance should be documented, what level of detail is needed, and who should be responsible for approving the proposed means of compliance in various scenarios.
  4. The Executive Director of the Aircraft Certification Service should provide information to staff to address their uncertainty regarding (1) the circumstances in which an issue paper is required, and (2) how to ensure staff’s concerns are documented and resolved in situations in which staff are not to use an issue paper.
  5. The Executive Director of the Aircraft Certification Service should implement a strategy to regularly collect, address, and share information and guidance resulting from employees’ feedback regarding implementation of Amendment 64.
  6. The Executive Director of the Aircraft Certification Service should implement a method to track Amendment 64 projects by certification basis.
  7. The Executive Director of the Aircraft Certification Service should take steps to develop performance measures to evaluate the effects of Part 23 performance-based regulations on safety, regulatory cost burden, innovation, and technology

DIRECTOR KRAUS director

Heather Krause , 

Director GAO’s Physical Infrastructure Team

 

GAO Kraus



 

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