AOPA: FAA Plans for Review of Aircraft Certification Standards Welcome and Needed

August 23, 2011

The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday, August 22, announced that it will convene an aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) to review and make recommendations for rewriting aircraft certification standards. The ARC members will be tasked with determining the best way to move Part 23 of the federal aviation regulations (which governs the aircraft certification process for many aircraft flown in general aviation) from weight and propulsion-based certification standards to aircraft complexity and performance-based standards.

Based on recommendations from a recent certification process study, the ARC will determine how the general aviation fleet should be segmented. One recommendation is that Part 23 be reorganized to include a tiered certification process. That could mean that the certification burden for a lower performance, less complex aircraft might be simpler and less costly than for a high performance, highly complex aircraft.

"Such a move could be good news for manufacturers and consumers alike," said Robert Hackman, AOPA’s vice president of regulatory affairs. "The certification process is a sizeable portion of the cost of bringing a new aircraft to market. Such a tiered certification process could reduce what manufacturers must pay to design and build a basic aircraft, and those lower design costs might mean a reduced per-unit cost for consumers."

Once the aviation rulemaking committee is formed, it will have 18 months to issue its report to the FAA’s Small Aircraft Directorate. That term could be extended an additional six months if the Manager of the directorate determines additional time is needed.